Sunday, September 25, 2011

Google Travel Site Doesn't Strike Fear Into Competitors

News flash: Google doesn't have all the answers.

At least that was the response from travel search-engine sites as they caught their first glimpse of a competing product launched by Google last week.

It's never a good sign for your business when one of the world's largest companies buys your chief supplier and seeks to muscle in on your turf.

So it's understandable why many travel engines — including Travelocity, Expedia and Kayak — suffered angst when Google proposed last year to buy ITA Software, the company that developed and provides their fare-search technology.

After the acquisition was approved in April, they were resigned to waiting to see what competitive threat Google Travel would unleash. But when the tech giant finally released its airfare search tool last week, the competitors were left underwhelmed and perplexed.

"We believe our flight search technology is superior," said Robert Birge of Kayak (which has a business relationship with USA TODAY).

Bloggers at, an anti-Google organization funded by travel search sites, wrote that the new product "raises a lot of questions," including whether Google will favor flights from its advertisers or mix sponsored ads with other search results.

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