Speaking at the eyefortravel Sales and Marketing in Travel Europe conference in Berlin, Jan Oetjen, Travelocity’s managing director Germany, said that the search engine revenues would be cut following the likely consolidation in the travel industry. “We all know that travel is a major buyer for the search engines, consolidation would bring down the costs which travel companies pay.”
He expected more consolidation – but said that this depended on whether the industry “commoditised or personalised” its approach.
Speakers at the conference expressed the view that the search engines have become the new travel distribution system virtually replacing the dedicated GDS system.
Meanwhile, Expedia Europe director, Bruce Redor, attacked the meta-travel search engines. “I believe they bring greater choice,” he said but went on to heavily criticise the approach largely basing his argument on the fact that the travel inventory companies would not be able to cope with the scale of response needed. “Expedia handles 1,000 requests a second,” he said, “And that’s just for the flight path queries”.
Navneet Bali, formerly from e-bookers, is developing a new travel search engine or meta search tool in India under the brand Allcheckin.com. He believes that such travel search engines offer transparency and that customers are looking for that.
Google’s vertical market manager – travel UK – Daniel Robb – revealed that Google has undertaken a major pan-European study of travel search and will be releasing its findings in events throughout Europe in the next few weeks. For the UK, he said that 93% of travel searchers use Google, 34% Yahoo and 18% MSN. The study was principally based on existing Google users and demonstrates a multiple use of the engines.