Google Tip-Toes Back Into Travel Search

Many will remember Google's short fancy with meta search a few years back which was quickly squashed when Google probably realized that the margins were a lot better selling key words than actually selling travel...

We just noticed that Google has added a helpful, yet telling little feature when a user searches for "Boston to Sydney" for example. We noticed the widget when we were actually looking for driving directions. (No, not to Sydney)
So far, only Online Travel Agents (OTAs) such as CheapTickets, Expedia and a pure meta player, Kayak, are listed as search options but one would assume that individual airlines might soon be able to buy these same slots.

(Wouldn't Delta like to buy this spot to promote their new flight Down Under?) The order of the site suggestions does not rotate by different origins and destinations but one has to assume this will change as well - surely some searches are more valuable than others, particularly if there is potential package revenue etc.

And, yes, you can put in actual dates e.g. "Boston to Denver December 15th to January 1st" and it lovingly pre-populates those dates in the search box. When a user clicks on one of the choices, they are deep-linked right into the search process - no need to retype dates etc. And, unlike some other efforts in this area, it does not open up a slug of new windows each with a new site.

Not a surprise here, but no changes in the hotel search landscape (at least yet....)

These insights are excerpted with permission from Tom Botts' Hudson Crossing blog.