Google Takes On Travel
By Mark Murphy
August 15, 2012 11:45 PM
Google’s purchase of Frommer’s travel guides this week illustrates the power of content. What is Google’s goal in this acquisition? Apparently, it wants to build out its travel business with content so as to differentiate itself from, and beat out, the online travel agencies.
It’s a good strategy that’s a wake-up call for anyone who thinks marketing comes down to paid clicks. Google, the king of clicks, continues to see the value in content and has quietly made many acquisitions to build its business in this area.
On the other hand, it’s a bit ironic. Google’s business has been built on driving clicks to websites with those sites measuring the “conversion” or “acquisition cost” of that particular action. Make a profit and you’re some kind of marketing genius, at least in your own mind. The reality is much different since anyone can buy clicks, sell on price and get bookings.
While everyone has been playing the click and return on investment (ROI) game for the past several years, Google is recognizing that it’s not a linear path in the case of travel. People don’t click and buy a trip in the same way they click and buy a book or a pair of sneakers. In those commodity purchases, it comes down to price and convenience. I wear size 10 Asics sneakers, so I know what I want and can make that purchase online to save myself time and money in the process.
Contrast that with travel. Consumers spend hours researching online, asking questions of travel agents and friends and perusing review sites. They don’t go in a single path or seek out the cheapest offer. Instead, they seek out information to make a decision and then transact their business in the most efficient way. The Internet has made this possible by putting billions of pages of content a mouse click away.
It’s about travel content on demand for consumers. They can watch a video, read a news story, read a feature article, see a travel promotion, get traveler feedback and more. They also can do all of this when and how they want. From an iPad to an iPhone to a desktop computer, and with the new Apple Operating System, they can access it via their TVs.
Google recognizes the importance of travel content in giving users what they need to make travel decisions. Do you? What do you as travel agents provide to customers interested in researching travel information and making an informed decision? Is your solution travel deals and a couple of pages of badly formatted “content” that couldn’t get found unless you sent someone a link?
That’s why I invite you to join me in two weeks at the Agent Studio: Build Your Website, Build Your Brand Live Virtual Expo. It’s free to learn more about how to market yourself on the Internet and drive business based on having the right content for your customers.
Mark Murphy is president and CEO of travAlliancemedia, parent of TravelPulse.com, Agent@Home magazine, Vacation Agent magazine, Travel Agent Academy, Virtual Travel Events and Agent Studio.