In mid-September news broke that Google was in talks to purchase ITA Software Inc, which is the leader in flight data information, for $700 million and it has made a lot of people very unhappy. A group of very popular online travel companies have formed a coalition called FairSearch.org and planning on taking their cause to Capitol Hill and the members of Congress to demonstrate how unfair they feel this deal will be to them and their businesses. Companies like Kayak.com, Expedia Inc., Farelogix Inc. and Sabre Holdings (which runs Travelocity) feel that if this deal is to go through it could greatly limit their access to the travel software and thus diminish their stakes in online travel arena.
Those against the deal know how valuable Google’s “opinion” can be on searchers and with control of about 30% of the travel search share already, they are worried that the search giant will use its influence to direct traffic where they want it to go. Thomas Barnett of Expedia said, “Google has tremendous power in the search market, and it gives Google the ability to steer users in directions that are best for Google”. This sentiment seems to the general consensus among those opposed to the deal. Google on the other hand doesn’t’ see their purchase of ITA as a threat to other online travel sites. They simple want to provide Googlers with more useful information when it comes to flight information. They also say they don’t plan on selling tickets and that they will continue to honor ITA’s existing contacts; though its rivals say they haven’t committed to renewing any contacts as of yet.
Do you think Google is just trying to give users a better travel search experience or do you think this could be the way the foray into the world of online travel for themselves?