When Google acquired ITA flight software a couple of years back, a group of competitors went ballistic warning of unfair practices by the Internet search and ad giant. Most people back then blew off what FairSearch was contending, this author included. As it turns out, a half dozen court cases won and a lot of water under the hotel search bridge, and potential guests really have no choice at all. Google has rigged the hotel booking game into an ad recommendation one.
A federal lawsuit naming the likes of Expedia, Orbitz, Booking.com, Travelocity, Trump International Hotels Management, Intercontinental, Kimpton, Sabre Holdings, Priceline, Marriott, Starwood, and Hilton alleges the companies conspired to fix hotel room prices. According to the news from Reuters, the suit claims the travel giants did so in an effort to fend off competition from smaller online retailers.
A Texas judge has ruled that Sabre Holdings Corp. cannot stop American Airlines (AMR) from seeking a court order to bar Sabre from diminishing the position of AMR’s flight listings. American is seeking an injunction to stop Sabre from listing the airline’s flights beneath competitors routinely. While AMR has won the most recent court round, passengers may lose in the end.
The ceasefire between American Airlines and GDS giant Sabre signals an “all quiet” moment on the front lines of the online travel wars we have been covering. The announcement that the two companies would attempt to resolve their differences out of court, at least until June 1st, calmed the churning business cauldron for online travel for some.
The online travel war between OTA’s, airlines, and other interested parties has grown into an industry damaging PR nightmare. American Airlines, Google, Expedia, all the major players may not realize how frustrating their power moves are for the little people. These companies are jeopardizing their own future, and that of developers all over the world.
American Airlines and ITA penned a deal the other day which AA claims had nothing to do with Google’s acquisition of ITA technology. But the suggestion still remains as to what exactly Google is doing to fend off its opponents in the so called “Online Travel War.” Is Google silently orchestrating the downfall of Expedia and the others of FairSearch? Well, probably not anything so diabolical, but winning the ITA acquisition with underlying business relationships? This is not only possible, but probable.
In a transparent move to block yet another Google business move, Microsoft joins the scaredy cats at FairSearch. Like a ravenous whining hyena, Microsoft once again nips at the heels of the Internet’s most profitable and powerful company.
Google’s detractors huddle in Phoenix at this year’s PhoCusWright Conference to try an lobby allies. Fearing Google’s ITA acquisition will forever change the online travel game, some top travel execs seem willing to do anything to block the Internet’s biggest player.