|Google To Swallow Tours & Activities Ticketing Market?|
If you already believe Google intends to swallow up the entire travel and tourism sector (eg Google Hotels), the above read might not come as a surprise.
Recommended reading for everyone with sites in the travel sector.
And news today that banks must now take on Google, Amazon and some other behemoths or go bust. Also protesters blocked a Google commuter bus in San Fran because they believe the influx of high tech workers are driving up the costs/pushing lifelong residents out of their community.
These are all signs, in my opinion, of a methodical and unchecked expansion of an existing monopoly. The transfer of content and wealth from webmasters to Google is often discussed and swept under a rug. Offline protests are a little harder to deny and hide.
Who needs structured data with a Google API? Do the other search engines offer this and what will the impact be on competition? It's all about profits to Google, in my eyes.
Happy Holidays and I'll look for this thread in the government, politics section for any reasonable discussion.
No real surprise.
I am sure there will be more sectors Google decide to "enhance the users experience" with in 2014.
|And news today that banks must now take on Google |
Can you add some context to that?
Based on the information in the Tnooz story, "Google to swallow tours & activities ticketing market" smacks of hyperbole or panic. A lot of players (both large and small) are jockeying for a piece of the tours and activity market, so it shouldn't be surprising that Google sees an opportnity there, too.
IMHO, it's important to remember that not every purchase of a tour or activity begins with a Google search. For example, someone who's planning a cruise might respond to an ad or an affiliate link on a cruising site for shore excursions, port transfers, etc. Another person who's reading about a destination, resort, hotels, etc. on TripAdvisor might do the same thing.
So yes, if you're selling tours or activities, Google may be a competitor--just as Google is a competitor if you're running ads on your site, since Google runs ads on its site. But most searchers aren't clicking on Google Search ads or buying things through Google links. Google may be able to skim off some of the cream, but it's also sending an awful lot of traffic to third-party sites via organic search. Your real concerns should be how to get a bigger piece of that traffic and how to convert more of your traffic into revenue.
|Can you add some context to that? |
ASB CEO warns of competitive threat from Amazon, Google, Apple:
There are a few other stories from this month that are circulating on Forbes, Financial Times, etc. with similar headlines that discuss the same.
|so it shouldn't be surprising that Google sees an opportunity there |
I (like may others) have a problem with Google not only controlling who appears in its search results (Panda, Penguin etc) but now also marketing its products and services via preferential placements on the SERP's (eg Google Hotels), all the while being totally reliant on the intellectual property of those pesky darn competing sites. That seems more like a monopoly than an opportunity.
|Your real concerns should be how to get a bigger piece of that traffic and how to convert more of your traffic into revenue |
Yep….. that could work on a level playing field. Maybe we can ask some of the Penguined sites in the travel sector how that is working out for them now that they have had something like 20 months to recover.
The problem has always been that if Google can get an API or access to reliable content it will be tempted to surface it directly and have others pay to be around those listings.
Unfortunately, that's the weakness in the reseller model using SEO. Not only that it can take out anything with "similar" content. Such plays smack of increasing the monetization of the SERP's by engaging more and more Google assets in the vacant slots.
Forget the SERP's and ranking for a moment. Look at the page layout and how slots are allocated. SERP rankings then become somewhat academic.
I'm sure Google has stacks of data on which verticals can yield revenue improvements for them.
There's a tendency here to see Google as the bogeyman, and to believe that all one's troubles would go away if only Google became a nonprofit search utility with nothing but 10 blue organic links per page. But let's be realistic: Competition is coming from many different sources (not just from Google), and some of those competitors are likely to be capturing many more prospects for tours, transfers, car rentals, etc. than Google is.
Every time I book a flight on Delta, I receive a pitch for hotels, car rentals, cruises, and other travel products. Later, when I check in online and print my boarding pass, I get more ads and offers. If I had a Delta credit card (which I don't), I'd be getting even more pitches offering me bonus miles with every purchase.
Similarly, if I book a cruise, I get pitches for airport-to-port transfers, pre- and post-cruise hotels, shore excursions, and pre- and post-cruise land tours.
I also receive e-mails from TripAdvisor every week that pitch hotels and other travel products for places that I've researched.
Finally, if the prepaid "tours and activities" market expands as much as some people think it will, I'll be getting pitches for local sightseeing tours, day trips, shows, city passes, zoo tickets, ground transfers, etc. from the hotel chain every time I book a name-brand hotel in Widgetberg or Whatsitville.
Bottom line: Google may be competing with you, but so are many other companies--and some of those companies are far bigger threats to your livelihood than Google is.
It must be nice to have that insight/data into the user behavior. Just a slight, and I mean ever so slight advantage. I think this thread should move to the conspiracy section (aka government/politics section) because it's not helping me with my SEO. Knowing consumers takes data and if you believe that your business/website is going to compete on that level? I'm hoping for an affiliate situation because I'm all in regarding the success of Google in whatever they branch into. Heck, we can't even really get keyword data anymore. They with the most data wins. Isn't that how it works? Whatever the case, Google will do it cheaper for me the consumer so I'm just head over heels about this news!
|There's a tendency here to see Google as the bogeyman, and to believe that all one's troubles would go away if only Google became a nonprofit search utility with nothing but 10 blue organic links per page. But let's be realistic: Competition is coming from many different sources (not just from Google) |
We were fine prior to May Day. It's never been the same since then, like a switch was flicked. A company that has its bottom line at heart will never give impartial results despite what some on here think. Some darn good sites & businesses have gone, much like the high street has been decimated by big corporations the same is happening online.
Competition is great, it keeps you on your toes. Domination by one company is good for no one.
Google did release a pre-paid debit card last month that lets people access money in their wallet accounts. The news reports said that it will not just give Google a larger footprint in ecommerce, but also data about the buying habits of their users. A Google bank may not be that far off. They seem to have most of the online money anyway!
One very wealthy company (Google) in so many industries. This is not good for free markets.
/\ I wonder why they decided to retire Google Checkout? They could've mined so much more data if they kept it yet made it work more like Pay Pal. Perhaps financial regulation is too tough for them :)
|Domination by one company is good for no one. |
Google may dominate search, but it doesn't dominate tours and activities, hotels, cars, widgets, books, auctions, etc. If you're trying to make money off hotels, for example, your real competitors are other sites that sell hotel rooms (everyone from TripAdvisor to OTAs to airlines and cruise lines), not Google.
I'd also suggest looking beyond Google for traffic. Although Google is our editorial site's biggest referrer, our highest-earning pages (in terms of affiliate revenue) get most of their traffic from direct links--in some cases, from sites that compete with us.
|Google may dominate search, but it doesn't dominate tours and activities, hotels, cars, widgets, books, auctions, etc. |
|If you're trying to make money off hotels, for example, your real competitors are other sites that sell hotel rooms (everyone from TripAdvisor to OTAs to airlines and cruise lines), not Google. |
How many people find hotel rooms via the search engine? It's naive to suggest Google doesn't impact a business that has any form of online presence.
|It's naive to suggest Google doesn't impact a business that has any form of online presence. |
No one is suggesting that it doesn't. But it's equally naive to think that Google's commercial links are like flypaper, with a 100 percent conversion rate.
Since the discussion is focused on Google's business practices and strategy we moved this out of Google SEO which is for discussion that focus on the search algo.
|Google may dominate search, but it doesn't dominate tours and activities, hotels, cars, widgets, books, auctions, etc. If you're trying to make money off hotels, for example, your real competitors are other sites that sell hotel rooms (everyone from TripAdvisor to OTAs to airlines and cruise lines), not Google. |
Do a search for "New York hotels" (or similar). Notice the listing at the top of the first page, just below the Adsense block?. It says "Hotels in New York, USA on Google". That's Google Hotels at work and it is the #1 competitor for any site wanting exposure in that sector.
Do a search for "flights orlando to chicago" (or other USA/Canada cities). Notice the data from www.google.com/flights appears above all other results, immediately below the Adsense block? That is Google Flights at work and it is the #1 competitor for any site wanting exposure in that sector.
Do a search for "buy cameras online" (or a similar shopping query). Notice the big display with links to merchants. That is Google Product Search (part of Google Shopping) at work and it is the #1 competitor for any site wanting exposure in that sector.
In light of the message in the OP, it's likely we will see Google Tours sometime in the future if they think there is enough money in it. And it will sit immediately below the Adsense block, above all other listings and it will become the #1 competitor for any site wanting exposure in that sector.
With the possible exception of travel insurance, that pretty much wraps up the entire travel and tourism sector.
Google may not be a direct competitor at the actual point of sale, but that does not alter the reality that it uses the SERP pages as a medium to elevate its pay-to-play merchant partners, its own revenue channels and its authority site partners. All of which pushes you further from your audience…. and that very definitely makes Google a competitor.
I guess the moral of the story is that unless you can pay Google, it's not that interested. Owning anything that moves seems natural to Google's growth.
|The card could help advance Google's efforts to play a bigger role in commerce and provide the company with valuable information about consumer shopping habits, though it appears to be less ambitious than the full-fledged credit card once rumored to be in the works. [reuters.com...] |
Google wants end to end targeting of it's ads, control over it's data, wherever it can, whenever it can, using it's assets, monetizing whatever it can. Tours, activities and ticketing is a major vertical, so it would seem logical for them to play in it.
I don't like it, because it's competition, as you say. But that's the facts as I see it.
The only hope is that there is a plethora of opposition that sparks an anti trust initiative. That's not as easy as the Microsoft and Telecommunications Industry cases in the US. Firstly, defining the product is immensely complex in legal terms. Secondly, Google is smart at getting complaining lobby groups onside with "favouritism". Give it another 10 years and Google will have it's landscape in order for a potential breakup caused by legislation - if it ever gets that far. The water will be under the bridge, so to speak, by then.
|The only hope is that there is a plethora of opposition that sparks an anti trust initiative. |
Don't expect that to happen unless some major corporations get ensared by Google. The political debate in Google's home country is dominated by an ObamaScare agenda that has both political parties functioning as if the country has no other business. This is the perfect time for entities to slip under the radar and remain undetected for their bad practices, but I don't believe Google has to be concerned about being declared a monopoly anytime soon.
The FTC operates within the constraints of antitrust laws that have seen little modification since the horse and buggy days as someone so eloquently posted on another site. These laws are deficient in dealing with the challenges presented in the digital era.
Although Google's status as a monopoly is debatable, their participation as an oligopolist should not be discounted. Google is already working closely with select market leaders online (see source below) to lobby those who enact and enforce laws. For a group that claims to be "the unified voice of the internet economy," they sure seem to lack participation from small businesses.
|Give it another 10 years and Google will have it's landscape in order for a potential breakup caused by legislation |
Or maybe Google will sway enough politicians and gain an exemption from antitrust laws through legislation. Don't forget that Eric Schmidt served on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and also helped to re-elect President Obama. Eric Schmidt was even in the President's "boiler room" on election night to join in the celebration.
@turbocharged - there's also probably unseen collaboration with many intelligence units I imagine - not just in the US. Google wouldn't be alone in that despite public denial. The US is sensitive about such a suggestion, but in other nations it's a little more blunt - and the US needs to interact with it's international intelligence.
I wouldn't be surprised if this isn't why Yandex in Russia and Baidu in China have survived and prospered in the face of Google, not so much around the commercials, but more around the intelligence protection required.
When intelligence or serious political influence is at stake, a lot of issues e.g. Trust investigations, get's ignored in the relationship of greater interest. So breaking Google's dominance probably isn't major either
So what I'm saying is the integrity of morals is disrupted by the reality of needs<>needs.
We've seen it with the newspaper groups for decades per Rupert Murdoch in the UK. Influence helps avoid scrutiny.
Moving dominance into verticals is commercial, but academic in the overall context.
So I agree, the status quo isn't going to be broken any time soon - 10 years , 20 years who knows how long this SERP's technology will remain relevant. I think that's another reason why Google wants to move fast on securing content.
|Google may not be a direct competitor at the actual point of sale, but that does not alter the reality that it uses the SERP pages as a medium to elevate its pay-to-play merchant partners, its own revenue channels and its authority site partners. All of which pushes you further from your audience…. and that very definitely makes Google a competitor. |
Exactly. & the way they do it is very clever & long term. Look at Google Shopping, started off as a little set of 3 links in a "one box" result, then progressed to pictures too. When there were enough merchants on board they made it paid in the name of quality. Only a #*$! fool would believe that line (much like Panda & Penguin is anything to do with quality). So these days Google Shopping has virtually no small sites in the sector I watch & endless eBay listings in the name of quailty. Half the links are out of date & most have incorrect prices! Now imagine what will happen if Google merge with Amazon, some would say they virtually have anyway looking at the SERP's! Or how about Google eBay (again, looking at the SERP's this may as well be true).
One thing is for sure, online is going to look very different in a few years & not for the better IMO.
Slowly but surely they will swallow every industry.