Of course Google could become an online travel agency if it wanted to, but why would it want to jeopardize such a lucrative revenue stream in terms of ad dollars it receives from booking sites?
The prospect of Google becoming an actual, bonafide online travel agency surfaces at regular intervals in the travel industry.
The theory is that Google is already part of the way there with its search and trip planning tools and it even facilitates some bookings.
The problem with this is that Google makes a lot of money from the paid links that appear at the top of every search, so why would it want to change?
Speaking at Skift Forum Europe in Berlin in April, Rob Torres, Google’s managing director for travel, said that speculation about the technology company’s travel intentions had been going on for more than a decade since his arrival from one of the industry’s biggest players.
“I think a lot of people thought I was coming from Expedia to start an OTA [online travel agency] at Google and now it’s been 12 years and still no OTA,” he said.
“I’m here to say we’re very, very happy being the trusted place people go to search for now very relevant and personalized travel information.”
Google’s priority at the moment is to improve its travel offering particularly in the hospitality space and that connecting all its different products up would take place “at some point in time”.
You can watch the entire interview above, or consider reading more coverage of Skift Forum Europe.
At Skift Forum Europe in Berlin, Europe’s travel leaders gathered for a day of inspiration, information, and conversation.
Photo credit: Google's Rob Torres.