Big technology brands such as Google and Facebook play a bigger role in the travel industry, not as travel providers, but as tollbooths and curators to lead consumers towards making the travel booking.
Quote from Kieron Branagan, CEO at OpenJaw Technologies, in article on PhocusWire this week:
PhocusWire Forecast 2018: Seven challenges for airlines
Many have said for over a decade that the biggest travel companies in the world are not what would normally be defined as traditional "travel companies".
They do not directly sell a hotel room or put a backside on the seat of a plane, let alone own any of those actual assets.
These so-called Gatekeepers - namely, Google, Facebook and other consumer platforms - are at the top of funnel, whether it's with their capabilities in search or inspiration for a trip.
Branagan argues that airlines do not get their "fair share of the total margin and total revenue available", so carriers should take better advantage of their presence in the ecosystem, especially as they have the opportunity to do so with the amount of data they hold on travelers.
Fighting back against those who hold the keys is not a simple task and goes beyond simply providing more services that allow for personalization of product and a traveler's experience online.
That said, not trying to do so and simply up is probably an error of judgement as well.
There is a balance to be had here, with airlines (and others, such as hotels) ramping up their digital provision but also accepting that they can't be all things to all people, and that brands such as Google and Facebook have a vital role to play in essentially showcasing the wider world - and how to experience it - to potential consumers.