Google's Travel Incursion Gradual, but a Threat To OTAs - Travel Weekly

Excerpt from Travel Weekly

Google continues to encroach gradually on OTA turf. The tech giant's most recent move was to begin offering exclusive hotel discounts via its Google One cloud storage platform, at the same time announcing the development of a 'hotel-plus-flight product.'

Google's hotel discounts are currently offered only to paying users of Google One, a cloud storage product that offers paid plans starting at $2 a month for 100 gigabytes.

But Phocuswright research manager Alice Jong said that despite their relatively limited rollout, the discounts still pose a "strategic risk" to OTAs and travel metasearch competitors.

"Google keeps launching all these little features, and if you look at each one independently, it's not as if they're going to turn Google into the next travel-deal website overnight," Jong said. "But they keep taking more and more little pieces out of the travel pie, and in many cases, these pieces are differentiating value propositions for other online players."

Jong added: "Google's sheer size and reach is keeping the travel industry on its toes."

Atmosphere Research Group president Henry Harteveldt, too, warned that OTAs should be wary, especially since Google One's hotel discounts could easily be extended across other Google channels.

"What starts as an offer to cloud subscribers could potentially be expanded to other groups," Harteveldt said. "Who's to say Google can't turn around and expand this to Gmail users or people who use other Google products, like Chromebook users or Android device owners?" 

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