As Google and ITA Software work to close their deal, now that the U.S. Department of Justice has conditionally approved the merger, ITA continues to work on new products behind closed doors and is quietly telling its customers that "the mission remains the same; it's business as usual."
One of those new products is InstaSearch. Not much is known about the product, although the proposed settlement would require ITA to further develop it and make it available to travel websites.
The product sounds a bit like a flight-inspiration product.
"ITA's InstaSearch is an experimental proof of concept designed to allow travelers without specific plans to quickly see a variety of options for possible destinations, dates and travel times," says Cara Kretz, ITA Software spokeswoman. "It enables this by maintaining a collection of availability-checked fare and market data [i.e. fares, taxes and fees], and returning that information quickly."
Although ITA is known to be developing a hotel product, InstaSearch is a flight-search solution only.
Beyond air, however, when customers ask ITA whether it is planning to get into hotel, car and ancillary services search, here is what clients are hearing:
"Google already provides hotel, car and ancillary travel search services," Kretz says. "Google/ITA will continue to evaluate new market and product opportunities and will make appropriate decisions as we do with any venture."
One big question that loomed when the acquisition was announced on July 1 was what would happen to ITA's Passenger Service System business. Would Google want to get into the business of hosting airlines' reservations systems?
ITA clients are hearing that there are no plans as of now to gut ITA's PSS business because of the merger. In fact, Google is said to be "excited about the new opportunities with greater integration into the industry's airline IT systems."
The Justice Department may have covered that possibility to some extent by inserting a settlement condition requiring Google to establish "firewall restrictions" to prevent unauthorized use of competitive data gathered from ITA customers.
Likewise, ITA's Needle product, which is a data aggregation solution, is considered by Google to be an important new product for ITA and there are no plans to puncture the product because of the acquisition.
Plans call for Google to retain 95% of ITA's employees, including the senior management team, and ITA would be a unit of Google and based in Cambridge, Mass.
Customers are being told that their sales, business development and support contacts will remain the same, and that contracts would be renewed, extended or modified "as in the normal course of business."
Google says it would be extending ITA's QPX contracts through 2016. QPX is ITA's airfare shopping and pricing product.
There is one little detail about the merger that is still a bit of a mystery. Will ITA retain its name and logo?
Details will be in the offing once the deal closes.
If Google decides to go with a new name for ITA, rest assured there won't be a Facebook contest to pick it.