Google raises the barrier with its acquisition of ITA

Google’s Acquisition of ITA signals its intention to expand its “Travel” search vertical but it is also an attempt to assert its dominance and raise the barrier to entry for up and coming and even well established search engines such as Bing which currently relies on the ITA software for its travel search results.

I would expect to see more of such acquisitions by Google and the likes of Microsoft as Search engines continue to push to become the one central resource for all online searches. Other verticals search engines are likely to turn their attention to include hotel bookings, insurance and music downloads.

For niche related Search companies affected by this change this means these companies would have to diversify and offer better user experience in order to compete with the search engines. Take Hostel World for example which is a hostel search and booking site. On top of the normal hostel search and booking functionality Hostel World provides city guides, the ability to post reviews, view other visitor’s reviews and connect with other visitors and more. Currently Hostel World’s monetisation involves charging a booking fee to its users but in the future it might evolve to replace this with featured listings.

For consumers though this might turn out to be good news as niche search engines try to diversify and offer better user experience to their customers.

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