Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Google’s Proposed ITA Deal Has The Online Travel Industry Crying, “No Fair!”

Google’s proposed $700 million acquisition of flight data powerhouse ITA Software is running into some serious resistance from the online travel industry. A group of online travel companies including Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity, and TripAdvisor are lobbying the Justice Department to block the deal on antitrust grounds through an organization called FairSearch. Some of these companies were also behind competing bids for ITA Software which failed. Microsoft separately opposes the deal as well.

ITA provides flight data, schedules, fares, and availability to many of these travel sites, airline sites and Microsoft’s Bing search engine. The FairSearch coalition argues that allowing “Google could use ITA to try to marginalize competitors in ways that raise prices for consumers and limit innovation.” They fear that Google will use its search dominance to steer traffic away from their own sites and favor flight search on Google itself.

These fears are not completely unfounded. A lot is at stake here. Online travel is a huge business. It accounts for an estimated $80 billion in ecommerce sales, or 38 percent of all ecommerce last year (the biggest segment by far). It also contributed an estimated 6 percent of online advertising (and an estimated 8 to 10 percent of Google’s revenues). About two thirds of all travel plans start on a search engine, and FairSearch claims that more than 30 percent of all travel searches already start on Google.

Getting this deal through the Justice Department will be a big test for Google. For its part, Google responds that it will honor all of ITA’s existing contracts, won’t sell airline tickets, and it plans to keep sending traffic to travel and airline sites. The reason Google wants ITA is because flight search is broken and needs fixing.

But in order to fix flight search, Google will very likely try to keep people on Google longer before sending them off to a travel site. Just like the ITA-powered travel section of Bing today is a fully-functioning travel search engine until the last click to purchase, Google will likely move in a similar direction. The travel sites understandably don’t like the prospect of Google gaining even more control over their business.

As I’ve written before, the ITA deal represents a huge shift in strategy for Google towards more vertical search and a possble move from cost-per-click (CPC) to cost-per-action (CPA) advertising. What if Google starts charging travel sites a CPA bounty based on each ticket purchased instead of just for every click it sends? Google would make more money under such a scenario, and the travel sites would make less—but only if Google has good enough data to know which flights to show which travel seekers. That is why Google needs to own ITA and all of its data.

Does that raise antitrust concerns? Maybe. But it’s all hypothetical harm at this point. Only one thing is certain If Google gets this deal past the DOJ, you can expect a few more going after other online industry verticals, which in turn will change the Google search experience depending on the type of search you do.

This article is written by Erick Schonfeld of Techcrunch.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Advancing Tourism’s Response to Climate Change

Today I would like to bring a special paper to your attention:

From Davos to Copenhagen and Beyond:
Advancing Tourism’s Response to Climate Change
by the UNWTO

Tourism and travel is a vital contributor to the global economy and especially important for many developing countries. Tourism is an effective way of redistributing wealth and a catalyst for gender equality, cultural preservation and nature conservation. As a result, the sector is also contributing to the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Climate change is one of the most serious threats to society, the economy and the environment and has been an issue of international concern for decades. The Inter‐Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that warming of the global climate system is “unequivocal” and that it is “very likely” that anthropogenic (human‐made) greenhouse gases (GHG) have caused most of the observed global temperature rise since the middle of the 20th Century. Ambitious emissions reduction
targets for developed countries and an effective framework that addresses the needs of developing countries are required.

Read the full paper here:
White paper

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The perfect companion for your next business trip

Finally someting for us men!

Yes, yes, yes, I love it! There are so many nice and beautiful travel toys for ladies but now I have found what I have been looking for all my (travel) life:

T.T. Trunks

As any seasoned traveler will tell you, a trunk is more than something that transports your stuff. With its sturdy covering, studs, and metal corners, it recaptures an age when travel was undertaken by hardy types prepared for any eventuality.

T.T. Trunks understands that appeal, creating trunks that can be personalized or made to order. And you don't have to be preparing for a world tour to justify owning one: The Champagne Trunk, for instance, fits right in at home, with a built-in refrigerator that chills 20 bottles and holds 18 flutes and an ice bowl.

The latest release is the New Dandy, timed to celebrate the French company's arrival in New York City at the O.C. Concept Store. This three-and-a-half-foot-high chest on wheels has a power pack for mobile devices, an iPad base, and a whiskey decanter set. One drawer includes a humidifier and hygrometer for cigars (my favorite; what a great way to have my cuban cigars with me, for always and everywhere), while another holds 500 clay chips, a dealer button, two decks of cards, and a poker tabletop. We think that pretty much says it all, but for dandies who like to go one step further, the whole thing, right down to the chips, can be personalized. I am thinking "007" (or freedom for men)!

The New Dandy trunk, from $30,550.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Baltic blonde Maledive Island

A Lithuanian company plans to set up a holiday island in the Maldives run entirely by blondes - the latest project in a growing blonde movement in the Baltics. But how legitimate is this latest sign of Baltic blonde ambition?

What do you call a blonde who runs a business? A dab hand at marketing, if she comes from Lithuania.

Blondes in the Baltics have had enough of the jokes about being dumb. Now they want to show they are smarter than the gags make out, with a growing blonde business empire.

The Lithuanian company Olialia, pronounced "ooh-la-la", is planning a holiday resort in the Maldive islands.

The firm hopes to pull in the tourists by employing only blonde staff, and offering direct flights to the island crewed entirely by blondes, including the pilots.

Olialia is run and staffed by blonde women, and already operates in 75 different business sectors, making products from computer software and food products to pop music.

Read here the full article: