Skift Take

The metasearch wars are drawing to a close and Google looks to be winning.

The travel industry was top of mind when Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported first quarter earnings on Tuesday night. Philipp Schindler, senior vice president and chief business officer, highlighted the travel sector as the second largest contributor to growth in Google’s advertising business. In the first quarter of this year, Schindler reported, travel search activity was even higher than it was in the first quarter of 2019, well before the pandemic set in.

Travel is roaring back. And “what’s our Google strategy” is once again a key question that every travel executive needs to be asking. As the travel industry rebuilds, Skift Research revisits this critical topic. We identify five big open questions about the role of Google in travel that arose before and during the pandemic. 

The Key Questions for Google and Metasearch 

  1. Can online travel agencies use the pandemic to reset their relationships with Google?
  2. Can travel metasearch diversify away from booking site advertising?
  3. Can Google bring hotel brands onto their metasearch platform?
  4. Can travel-specific metasearch beat back Google?
  5. What is the future of online travel in a Google world?

With 2022 the year of travel’s recovery, Skift Research believes we can start to answer these questions. This report will delve into more detail on each question, but in short, we believe that Google’s influence on the travel industry has only expanded during the pandemic and the search platform is now firmly entrenched at the top of the travel marketing funnel. The last decade saw fierce battles for market share and user growth. But now we believe the metasearch wars are ending; Google is winning. 

What You’ll Learn From This Report

  • How much the travel industry spends on Google.
  • How Google Travel’s share of user traffic has evolved during the pandemic.
  • The different approaches that Expedia, Booking, and Airbnb are taking to spending on Google. 
  • The influence that Google Travel has on hotel and airline bookings. 
  • Why we believe that the online travel industry needs to redesign its consumer value proposition.

This is the latest in a series of reports and data products that Skift Research puts out to help you analyze the biggest trends in the travel industry. Tap into the opinions and insights of our seasoned network of staffers and contributors. More than 200 hours of desk research, data collection, and/or analysis goes into each report.

By subscribing to Skift Research, you will gain access to our entire vault of reports conducted on topics ranging from technology to marketing strategy to deep dives on key travel brands. You will also be able to access our proprietary Skift Travel Health Index, Skift Travel Company Tracker, Hotel Tech Benchmark, and data from our regular traveler surveys.