Where Google's self interest lies, is in the removal or containment of the middlemen such as Expedia , Priceline , Tripadvisor etc etc
Exactly! And neither containment nor removal will be easy to achieve.
Barry Diller, Chairman of Expedia [en.wikipedia.org ] and IAC Interactive [en.wikipedia.org ] exactly a lightweight, and he seems to know something about travel verticals. Not afraid of a fight, either.
And Priceline isn't exactly a business slouch, either.
Granted, not as big as Google, but perhaps with more diverse experience in development of customer-centric web properties, and staffs with more people skills.
All these companies have something significant to lose.
Just as we are exchanging opinions here, don't you think that the strategy sessions are already happening this weekend at these companies? They are obviously not clueless people, and they do have the ability and business acumen not only rally their own troops, but also to create the necessary alliances to preserve their business.