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Google’s Other Attempts to Enter the Travel Space

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Sep. 22 2016, Published 4:28 p.m. ET

Not the first time

Google (GOOGL) has made various other attempts to enter the travel space. Google Flights, as the name suggests, helps you search and book flights, while Google Hotel Search does the same with hotels.

In March 2016, Google launched its Destinations, combining its Flights and Hotels apps in addition to giving users a list of popular destinations to visit and also a list of popular activities.

As one can guess, none of these really took off, which led Google to its latest attempt, Trips.

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Google’s acquisitions in Travel Space

In 2010, Google acquired ITA Software, a Cambridge, Massachusetts flight information software company for $700 million. According to Google, the deal was supposed to “benefit passengers, airlines, and online travel agencies by making it easier for users to comparison shop for flights and airfares online, and by driving more potential customers to airlines’ and online travel agencies’ websites.”

Since then, ITA Software has built the infrastructure for many airlines and travel sites like Kayak and Orbitz, and so the deal made Google the direct owner of its competitor’s products. The deal had to secure regulatory approval.

Google also acquired Zagat, the restaurant review app, for $151 million. Zagat had more than 30 years of review history and aimed to help Google overcome the failed attempt of its Yelp acquisition. Google then disintegrated the original Zagat team and mainly used it to help its Google+ efforts. July 2016, saw the first real makeover for the restaurant review app.

Google then acquired Frommer’s Travel, a travel publication from John Wiley and Sons, for $22 million. Nine months after the acquisition, Google resold the brand to its 83-year-old founder. It retained all the Frommer’s followers on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, FourSquare, and Pinterest.

Other major players in this space include Priceline (PCLN), Expedia (EXPE), and TripAdvisor (TRIP). Investors can get exposure to OTAs (online travel agents) by investing in the Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLY).

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