Last updated: 04:15 PM ET, Wed June 22 2016

Google Just Had A Massive Travel Industry Summit

Travel Technology | Gabe Zaldivar | June 22, 2016

Google Just Had A Massive Travel Industry Summit

Photo via Flickr

Google hosted a travel summit which brought together some of the top brands in the industry in an effort to garner cohesion in the marketplace amid growing tensions.

Tnooz’s Kevin May has the report on what was a rather secretive gathering of industry giants. Although May does have thoughts on what took place behind closed doors in San Francisco earlier this month.As May states, the meeting was held off-the-record and has not, as yet, yielded any comments from those present.  

For Google, that meant travel and shopping vice presidents Jon Alferness and Oliver Heckmann.

As for the companies invited to the private powwow, May lists the following: Marriott, Hilton, Expedia, Airbnb, Rome2Rio, TripAdvisor, VisitFlorida, GBTA, Thayer Adventures, Concur, TravelClick and McKinsey.

Noticeably absent from the gathering is any airlines, but one may very well have been invited to lend some thoughts to the discussions.

As for those very deliberations, nothing is known for certain. It is, however, easy to speculate why Google would bring together a healthy contingent of industry movers and shakers.

It may very well be a means to placate those who draw umbrage with Google – its search engine a basis and crucial cog to so many companies’ success – actually sneaking more readily into the travel industry itself.  

Slowly the massive company has extended its reach into the travel sphere with options like Google Flights, Destinations and possibly a new app dedicated to travel queries.

While there doesn’t seem to be an official disclosure of what was discussed, resolved or agreed upon at the council, May does point to a source who teases the impetus.

May writes, “This has ignited a cross section of views within the industry, ranging from mild irritation to outright anger, as many often see Google as getting away with, in one source’s words, ‘biting the hand that feeds it.’”

For Google, this is an important step to crafting a symbiotic relationship with brands that may very well fuel a contentious relationship as the Silicon Valley giant moves forward into the lucrative land of travel.

In the end, it may be a matter of covert transparency for those who most readily rely upon their OTA or hotel brand coming up on a search for “Places to stay in San Diego,” for example.

It was about time that Google came forward and illustrate the means they utilize for their own travel brand and the ends to which they hope to take them. Keep your consumers close but your competitors closer may have been the call of the day.

What it does signal is that Google is very much intent on the travel industry and becoming a major player in some form in shaping its market. While we don’t exactly know what form this will take. We do know an important chapter in its evolution was written recently.


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