World Panel
Viewpoint12 June 2019

What to expect with Google's new positioning in travel?

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What to expect with Google's new positioning in travel?
Facade of I Google Hotel in Incheon, South-Korea

Launched earlier in May, Google Trips puts merges flights, hotels, packages, home-rentals, car rentals, ridesharing, cruises, and experiences search in one single, übermensch ecosystem, combining the Google Trips app, Google Flights, and Google Hotels under one landing page. And, with Google getting bigger on the travel landscape, OTAs continue diversifying the risks: Booking.com (with Q1-2019 revenue down by 3%, don't forget), especially, alluded to new possible acquisition and it is rumored to announce its new stand-alone tours & attractions program any day now. My long-view on the topic is that Google is going to cover the whole traveler's journey, while OTAs will move more and more to B2B, possibly even SaaS, landscapes. How will these changes impact hotels? What's your take?

This viewpoint was created by
Simone Puorto , Travel Tech Journalist | Published Author | Consultant
Linchi Kwok
Associate Professor at The Collins College of Hospitality Management

I expect the Google Trips app will become a new tourism product that offers travelers the “total travel experience.” With Google Maps' location-based advantage, this app is very likely to become a significant threat to OTAs. Hotels too may also need to reevaluate their business relationship with Google and get actively involved in this new app.

In fact, Google is not the only company that strives to offer the “total travel experience” to travelers. Almost every operator in the tourism industry is trying to win more loyal customers with a bigger loyalty program. Some companies also found solutions through service integration and new partnerships to win “big” without tying up their investments with big assets. For example,

· The new partnership between Lyft and Hilton and the partnership between Lyft and Delta Airlines will allow travelers to earn Hilton Honor points and Delta SkyMiles for their rides.

·While the new contract between Marriott and Expedia does not seem to favor the OTA, OTAs are already ahead of hotels by getting into the short-term residential rental market a lot earlier.

·Marriott recently entered the short-term residential rental market as a means to compete head-to-head with Airbnb and OTAs.

·Airbnb acquired HotelTonight.com in March as the company marches its way to become a true travel enterprise.

Overall, when the big players in the market are trying to offer travelers more comprehensive travel experience within one platform, if not the “total travel experience” like what Google Trips app would offer yet, it is probably safe to predict more mergers and acquisitions can be observed in the market, or at least more new partnerships will be announced soon. Would you agree? 

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