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Technology: Googling Your Travel

Dominant in virtually everything it seems to touch, Google plans to expand its travel division by launching more travel pages or even a full-fledged travel channel, Catherine Holahan reports in BusinessWeek.

As anyone who remembers the Mr. Potter character in “It’s a Wonderful Life” realizes, opportunities abound in a down market, and right now, according to Holahan, “the U.S. travel industry is facing a terrible year.”

Google’s expansion plans include sponsored destination pages on sites like YouTube, where marketers can post their own travel videos. The idea is to influence the types of content that users upload.

Perhaps one of the tea leaves that Google is reading is that as
consumers increasingly turn to online sources to research and book their travel, they are looking for a more intuitive, interactive, and creative online experience beyond simply booking a flight or reserving a hotel room.

But Google doesn’t want to bother setting up its own Expedia or Travelocity, however. First, the investment is huge; second, the online travel agencies are, as Holahan notes, “some of Google’s largest advertisers.”

Google’s bottom line is that it can accelerate the growth of a blossoming travel research niche by getting more destination information online for travelers to tap into, especially travel videos. It can not only benefit itself by selling more advertising in the bargain, but, interestingly, much of the travel advertising represents ads that users don’t mind seeing.

But I say stay tuned. Today Google says its focus is on destination information, but tomorrow — who knows what else Google will be doing in the travel space? With Google, anything and everything is possible.

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And when was the last time you heard that someone actually wanted to see an ad?

Airline Futurist • Miami • www.us.amadeus.com

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