Whitey - 11:10 pm on Jul 29, 2011 (gmt 0)
It will only be a matter of [ time ] before the number one result for hotels in x is a Google listing or widget that carefully takes the user away from diverse results
I can't get my head around how Google can run a good search product by building it's own directory search platforms in various verticals. And i also struggle with how it could be viable for hotels and consumers alike. Sooner or later marketers at the hotels and OTA's will say enough is enough. This doesn't work for me and the returns are not there compared with other channels and marketing methods.
There isn't a lot of media realestate on search for key terms.
In Paris for example there are around 1500+ hotels competing for visibility. How are they going to get a place on the front page of a search, even if you drill down by maps and localities within Paris.
And if you use filters, where's the advantage to Google in terms of bidding placements, since to be a good product it must show all of the hotels arranged by filter criteria. So lot's of folks won't be paying to be in the displays.
If they are trying to get social engagement, unless they are in transactions they won't get good reviews or sufficient density on a global scale - so where's the content coming from?
Google needs a bit of chaos to be a viable product IMO . If it becomes too organised and overly self interested in verticals it may peak and find other options competing with it. Where Google's self interest lies, is in the removal or containment of the middlemen such as Expedia , Priceline , Tripadvisor etc etc and the direction of traffic via itself for the purposes of revenue improvements.
In travel, this type of thing may work well will flights, where the airlines are prepared to pay directly for visibility - because there are only minimal options between A and B with available media real estate, but I'm not sure about hotels, or indeed restaurants and other business listings.
It's really worth watching what analysts are saying about the pending, but delayed IPO's of Kayak and Tripadvisor etc to get a sense of where the market thinks this is going in the medium to long term. Clearly, the delays indicate a lot of uncertainty in the wake of Google.
I'm really not sure how this will play out. But there's a lot of disruption ahead while Google experiments. Maybe it's the disruption that Google creates with products like these that drives it's ad revenue up and share prices in the same direction. Maybe it's a case of the bigger picture.