I see Google coming out with its own travel platform based on my ‘connecting the dots’ between Google’s existing product line and previous travel acquisitions. It certainly has all the pieces to.
The exponential growth in possibilities given this list allows for multiple revenue opportunities makes it a compelling reason why Google would and at the very least could come out with it’s own travel platform.
I see the ITA Platform being the parent travel architecture — the Mother Ship — which it’ll use to plug existing and future travel products/services into. Throw a few acquisitions in there to balance out the platform offering.
- Airfare Pricing — The billions of combinations of fares, schedules and availability available through the ITA QPX product.
- Mobile Booking Engine or Mobile Travel Platform through the OnTheFly product ITA currently has.
- Travel Content — through Ruba (there are better content companies to buy but that’s for another blog post!). Coupled with YouTube travel videos.
- Visual Travel — add ITA Software to Google Earth and the notion of visual travel that many travel startups are attempting. Where a traveler can “see” their destination in 3D as part of researching a trip. How nice would that be – if their Visual Travel Offering is really good, maybe I won’t need to go on vacation at all. Just zooming in and “walking around” will be good enough.
- Visual Travel Lite — add ITA Software to Google Maps for what I’ll describe as visual travel lite. Ability to pick multiple points on a Google Map and automatically get pricing. Where it’s a 2D experience akin to what Kayak Explore does (which I love by the way – we need that but with the right inventory so I don’t have to search another site but Kayak!).
- Google Checkout Travel Merchant Services — Google Checkout, with changes in feature and policy, could easily offer a Travel Merchant Account Product. Anybody that sells travel knows how much of a problem taking credit cards is.
- Google Social Travel play through the integration of ITA Software/Engine and the launch of (potential) Googles Kayak Killer coupled with its upcoming Facebook Killer. I agree that’s a lot of ‘theory’ but the stage is being set – whether they do it or not is a different story. A true social travel play could be in the making and I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with a number of social travel startups doing some very exciting things in this space. Google if you want to acquire any of them, please be in touch.
- Predictive Travel. Take Google Insights for Search (for travel keywords for example) coupled with the QPX pricing engine coupled with the “predictive” algorithms in Google Trends and you could have a pretty interesting “travel suggestion engine” play going. End goal? For Google to tell me where I should go on vacation without having to think about it. 1 less thing I need to do.
- The Door to Door Travel Company Play – take a number of “lesser” services like Google City Tours, Google Transit and add it to the ITA Software (and others on the page) along the lines of what Zoombu and other “door to door journey” sites want to do. Particularly as a differentiator within the (potential) Google Kayak Killer.
- Location Based Travel — the opportunities within location based travel is just getting started. Google Places + Google Latitude + others on this list will make for a compelling advertising platform for Google. Check in to a place and you’ll get a coupon. Search for directions, GPS identifies your location, Google Places for local businesses with Google AdSense serving up advertisements/coupons.
- YouTube Travel Videos and User Generated Travel Content.
- Customer Service — Post purchase assistance with ticket changes and refunds and by addressing other “post purchase’ pain points based on the ITA Software ReShop product. Then integrating these services via an API.
Only the powers that be within Google truly know — I’m just thinking out loud here.