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Google’s impact on travel firms could also affect live entertainment

Travel companies TripAdvisor and Expedia Group have discussed suffering a downturn in revenues due to Google stealing market share away.

TripAdvisor, in its Q3 results, said its largest vertical, Hotels, Media & Platform, fell by 12 per cent year-over-year to $238m.

In announcing its results, TripAdvisor stated: “We believe our most significant challenge remains Google pushing its own hotel products in search results and siphoning off quality traffic that would otherwise find TripAdvisor via free links and generate high-margin revenue in our hotel click-based auction.”

“We are dissatisfied with our Q3 results, which are particularly frustrating because we entered 2019 with such great momentum built on strong profit growth, improving auction trends, and a return to sustained Hotel revenue growth seemingly well within our sights.”

Instead, revenue fell seven per cent to $428m, and net income dropped 28 per cent to $50m when measured against the third quarter of 2018.

In an earnings call with analysts on Thursday, TripAdvisor chief executive Steve Kaufer said TripAdvisor saw “incremental SEO (Search Engine Optimisation, i.e. Google) headwinds over the course of the quarter.

Meanwhile, Expedia’s chief executive Mark Okerstrom said Google is taking “more revenue per visitor, and I think it’s just the reality of where the world is in the Internet, and the importance of Google at the top of the funnel.”

The trend could translate into other markets, including live entertainment, as Google becomes dominant in search results across the board. Google-owned YouTube has continued to expand its ticketing feature this year, having partnered with Ticketmaster and Eventbrite to offer users listings to events.

Google has also recently begun testing its artificial intelligence assistant Duplex for making cinema ticket reservations across the US in Chrome. Earlier in the year, Google launched a new Events in Search feature to give web searchers personal recommendations and key information about Eventbrite events.

Image: Robert Scoble