Back in July, Google announced that they had plans to develop a new flight search functionality when they acquired ITA software, which tracks flight times and fares. Therefore, it came as no surprise this week when Google launched its new Flight Search feature in the US.
Integrating ITA data into search results isn’t something new. Bing and leading travel aggregator sites have been employing this tactic for years. Even before Google acquired ITA, they had demonstrated they intended to dip their toe into the lucrative flight search market when they integrated scheduled flight data into search engine results pages (SERPs) back in May.
Now when users enter a flight related search query in Google, they will not only be returned scheduled flight information, but be able to access additional info via a new ‘flights’ link in the left hand navigation.
It can’t be denied that this new feature will benefit the consumer, providing fast, reliable flight data at the click of a button. However it is not clear yet how it will impact search marketing strategies for both SEO and SEM.
This latest update again raises concerns relating to Google’s dominance in the market place and its ever aggressive development program.
Google is no longer simply the big daddy of search, but ever increasingly expanding its dominance into new sectors such as travel, music and its widely publicized venture into the social sphere.
This development from Google will no doubt undergo scrutiny from within the industry and governmental offices globally, it will be interesting to see how it pans out over the forth coming months. At the moment Flight Search is still only available in the US, it is expected to be rolled out internationally hitting Australia in the next couple of weeks.