Search in still king of the mountain for business and pleasure. For online travel, nothing could be more valuable actually. Google’s intended ITA acquisition is the biggest example of the import for huge companies, but a myriad of others exist for consumers. Even “relevance” is being sliced and diced to satisfy the growing craving for travel information.
You have heard the phrase; “being all things to all people. “Well, Google has done a decent job of being this for Internet searches. How will Google, Bing, or any other online search company become the illusory “all in one”search engine for online travel? The ITA deal offers one possible answer – acquiring the best, most refined travel search elements. With this in mind, we did a little search of our own to find likely candidates for Google (or anyone else) to snatch up.
Ratings, Ratings, Whose Got the Ratings
Expedia cornered the market in online travel with TripAdvisor’s user generated ratings system. We need not explain the impact this had. But tt least one little search engine now attempts to refine this market influencer and take it one step farther – meta ratings travel search company TrustYou.
This Munich startup founded by investment and search engine gurus , Benjamin Jost and Jakob Riegger, in collaboration with the likes of linguistic scientist Dr. Franz Guenthner, returns hotel reviews based on ratings from a vast array of online sites. Or, an aggregate and impartial search query result, made more impartial by the use of “semantic technology.” TrustYou has received rave reviews and won this year’s PhoCusWright Travel Innovation Summit – the only non-US company to do so.
Below a simple search for the best hotel in Kiev, Ukraine. As you can see, filtering by a vast array of variables is possible.
Now Departing from Your Front Door
The folks at FairSearch (Expedia and Co.) suggest that Google will corner the market with their ITA acquisition. Well maybe. But more it is far more likely that Google would grab market share by doing a better job for travelers buying other innovation. ITA’s software is superb for airline data, but the trend in making money on online travel is not plane tickets – it’s in add-ons. Expedia knows this.
Profit margins on airline tickets are shriveled to the point Expedia and many others are targeting other revenue mules like hotels. And another startup we found, ironically in Europe too, goes a step further in providing service with huge “add on service” potential. The Latvian booking search engine Movolo meets their customers at their own front door.
Movolo’s founders, Mauro Montanaro and Andrea Risa, started development to solve a simple point of pain – connecting all the little dots in the travel experience with a simplified tool. Movolo is just this, an “easy button” for taking people out their front door, and into a hotel room anywhere in the world. The reader may suggest; “But, Expedia or Orbitz does that.” No, standard booking engines take people from airport to airport basically. Worse still, they take people from big airports to big airports.
Movolo’s algorithms are being taught to factor in much, much more. Planes, trains, rental cars, bike tours, cruises, ferries, taxis, you name it – and then take it mobile too (Montanaro and Risa are former Nokia execs). Simplicity at the other end of very complex calculations – this is refined search. And Movolo is monetized by the traveler, not bound by provider commissions.
Search Gets Even Smarter for Travelers
I chose these two travel search options for a number of reasons. Why European startups? Europe is where the money is, for one thing. Secondly, these two illustrate the two ends of the travel search spectrum focused on meta-search. And finally, both have the possibility of being completely impartial – even the review component of TrustYou. For relevant search, objectivity and trust are huge success factors.
There are many other, even some fantastic travel search innovations out there which could be used to focus people’s attention on one (or a few) online travel portals (players). One that comes to mind immediately operates in the sphere of augmented reality (AR). No rocket science is needed to understand the value of mobile tools for travel.
This USA Today article shows a multitude of travel related innovations under developed. From Google Goggles to Lonely Planet, iPhone or Android, soon you will be able to point your camera at anything and get real time connectivity from anywhere in the world. Augmented travel reality is already under development by the likes of Booking dot com and many others. Soon your smart phone will be your key to anything it can see – “who said the search wars were over?”