There’s always a risk when we want to analyze what looks like game-changing deals like the one between Google and ITA.
Traditional travel companies downplay the importance and the other side, OTAs and metasearch engines, might overreact. The former falls into the trap of not doing anything, and latter overdo and take decisions in haste.
Here how it plays out on a football field:
First of all, I see hardly any difference in an OTA and a metasearch service. For an industry insider there’s a world of difference, but not to an end consumer. Why would we as the travel insiders see things differently than our customers? So let's stop kidding ourselves about the immense value we provide to the travel chain.
SCORE: Google/ITA 1 - OTA/Meta 0
With the wider accepted practice of unbundling it is getting harder for both OTA´s and meta to provide true value to customers, both are still in the game of price comparison. The OTA/meta value proposition hasn’t changed much but meanwhile the airline industry has entirely altered over the past few years. Google/ITA is not going to be able to change that either.
SCORE: Google/ITA 1 – OTA/Meta 1 (penalty kick)
OTAs used to lead innovation. Suppliers and Google do this today.
SCORE: Google/ITA 2 – OTA/Meta 1
According to Google: “Today, almost half of all airline tickets are sold online. But for many people, finding the right flight at the best price is a frustrating experience; pricing and availability change constantly.” Google/ITA is not going to change any of that with the acquisition. No goal.
INCIDENT: Google/ITA 2 – OTA/Meta 1 (crowd boos due to defensive play)
Google is getting too big and too powerful. Google has too much reach. People are getting worried about this and voices are raised, split up the company. One man gets red card in the Google/ITA team.
SCORE: Google/ITA 2 – OTA/Meta 2 (own goal)
As Google gets deeper and deeper into different areas, such as maps etc, they will have to compete with any other service who might do things better. Here is of course the real opportunity for the OTA/Meta team.
INCIDENT: Penalty kicks after added time.
So, who will win?
The OTA/Meta team only scored one goal, via a penalty kick. The other was through an own goal.
Post-match summary: OTAs and Meta will have to take the lead in innovation or be disintermediated.