Air metasearch engine Fly.com is warning travel search startups that the marketplace will be a more challenging sector following approval of Google's acquisition of ITA Software.
While some might consider this is bit of an understatement, Fly.com believes there is still room for metasearch providers that have put the effort into developing technology and relationships to produce stellar airfare search results.
Those with an existing audience and an ability to work with partner sites (such as Travelzoo, its parent company) to capture more traffic to operate valuable services for consumers, despite the "major impact" expected as a result of Google entering the industry.
Fly.com UK general manager Aaron Ritoper admits many consumers "will use a Google flight search out of convenience", but there will still be room for companies with "great content and a fantastic audience".
"For new players starting out, flight meta search will definitely be more challenging," he predicts.
Ironically, Fly.com is an ITA Software customer in the US, but has opted for a range of providers (including Amadeus, where Ritoper previously worked) and direct relationships with airlines for its UK and Germany sites ("each market requires different data sources").
Ritoper says it has no plans to change ITA as a service provider ("good cooperation between the two companies") and is forging ahead with plans to add hotels to the site some time during 2011.
Other countries are likely to get the Fly.com treatment "relatively soon", he says, with France and Spain the most likely candidates.