Skift Take

Airbnb is moving away from Google and performance advertising but few others seem to be following in its footsteps. We believe most online booking sites will remain reliant on Google for top of the funnel marketing post-pandemic. This sets up the search engine to retain its dominant position in travel.

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In our latest report, Skift Research estimates that the travel industry spent at least $8.9 billion on Google performance advertising in 2021. The search engine continues to be one of the most impactful players on all sectors of the travel industry with its role only growing due to the Covid-19.

We see 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

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

The below excerpt focuses on the first of these, exploring how major online travel agencies like Expedia Group, Booking Holdings, and Airbnb have changed their relationship with Google during the pandemic.

The full report dives deeper into the rest of these questions. It provides the full methodology for how we arrived at our estimate for travel industry spending on Google performance ads.

Can Online Travel Agencies Use the Pandemic to Reset Their Relationships with Google?

Expedia and Booking act as consolidators of, and clearinghouses for, marketing dollars throughout the travel space. This creates a scale advantage that few other travel suppliers can match and makes the booking sites critical partners for hotels and airlines, which can not otherwis