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Will Google Become the Only Online Travel Agent?

Will Google Become the Only Online Travel Agent?
Jennifer Billock

Google, which is currently fighting antitrust fines of about $2.6 billion in Europe and is the subject of data collection investigations, is now facing a new battle: more than 30 travel holiday rental companies. They’ve banded together and submitted an official complaint against the company, which they say is prioritizing Google’s services instead of their own.

What’s the Issue?

According to a letter the travel companies submitted to the European Commission, Google is essentially trying to put them out of business.

“We see strong indications of a competitive strategy for Google to reduce us and our industry to mere content providers for the ‘one-stop-shop’ of Google’s new product,” the letter said, reported by PYMNTS.com. “[Google] features its new product in a visually-rich OneBox at the top of its general search results pages. Such favorable ranking and display secures Google’s service more user attention and clicks than any competing service may acquire, even if these are more relevant for the user’s search query.”

Google has, in fact, already been fined for such practices in the European Union: about $8.9 billion for prioritizing their own search engines over the other companies when results show up on the search page. And the data collection practices are up for debate too, with the EU trying to determine if the company is making harder for smaller businesses to get into the market altogether.

What Does Google Think?

Google doesn’t think the way things are running is a problem—though they are working on a new algorithm for European searches. The company believes it’s just another search engine enhancement.

“People trust Google to give them relevant and trusted information from a diverse range of sources,” the company said, reported by PYMNTS.com. “That’s why our search results are designed to provide the most relevant information for your query, and the better the results we can provide, the more qualified leads we’re able to send to our partners. We’re currently testing a new format for specialist searches in Europe including jobs, local and travel where people might see a carousel of links to direct sites across the top of the search results. This is designed to demonstrate the range of results available.”

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