Clarence - 9:25 pm on Aug 14, 2012 (gmt 0)
This will be another fail. Other travel businesses don't just roll over, they compete. And travel is super competitive, and I doubt Google has the ability to compete with such a large, powerful, competitive , highly niched ,infrastructure already in place. They can beat up on a yelp, a weak yahoo, etc. They tried Trip Adviser but haven't put a dent in their earnings; they tried ITA, and haven't accomplished much.
Google wants to enter the travel niche because the advertising revenue is one of the largest online. A lot of individual hotels are becoming direct advertisers with high ad spend. They're selling $100+ per night hotel room, Direct “Minus an average 10% middle man fee”, so the spend potential is huge, and Google wants a way to get in front of that market. I'm in the Travel niche, and users rarely if ever choose a hotel from a Search Engine Result, or Google Places. They want detailed info "related to their specific trip, event, and time of the year" and they want reviews from past guest.
So Google is trying to find a way to get content answering those questions in front of user.
But one problem, Travel is a Niche of a Niche, of niche, that's Location, Season, Age, Status, etc… niched LMAO. It's very very segmented, and is made up for a lot small focused niche sites, and travel agents sending booking directly to large travel sites as Affiliates. Even the travel sites themselves are usually the last destination after a customer searches their niche, check reviews, and then make a booking.
Google thought putting hotel and flight in the SERP would do it, No luck. Try tried to #*$! Trip Advisor Reviews, but Trip Advisor shut it down, Now their trying to purchase reviews, but they are still missing the content, and understanding of the various niche which can be created using an Algorithm, or purchased or farmed out.
Another Fail for Google.