Google acquired Zagat—the A-to-Z guide for where to eat and what to do in major cities around the world—last September. With the addition of Frommer’s last month, Google is positioning itself as the go-to place to find go-to places. Google will most likely use content from Frommer’s to provide reviews and critiques of hotels, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other tourist attractions. (It already uses Zagat content for this purpose.) Frommer’s has clout in the travel industry, and Google hopes this cachet will encourage more travelers to use Google when searching for vacation “bucket list” items.
And with more vacationers on Google, there will be more opportunities for travel-industry companies to advertise using the search engines’ keyword ads and display content network. Last year the US leisure-travel industry spent 2.5 billion in online ads, according to E-Marketer Inc. Cha-ching!
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There is competition for the mighty Google. Companies like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Foursquare and even Facebook offer customer reviews of places to eat, drink, sleep, dance, party and play. Google actually tried to buy Yelp in 2010, but the deal fell through. At the time, Google offered Yelp half a billion dollars. Yelp is now worth an estimated 1.5 billion.
Yelp and Foursquare also have something akin to home-team advantage, as they provide in-destination info on their easy-to-use mobile apps. Already on the beach and in search of the best spot for a seafood dinner? Yelp it. Want to know what’s hot among the locals and close to your hotel? Open the Foursquare app on your phone and see what’s popping!
But before there was “Yelp it,” there was “Google it,” and Google wants it to stay that way. Google+ Local, part of the Google+ dashboard, competes in the in-destination travel game. Now when users click on a location within a Google Map, they may be taken to the location’s Google+ page, rather than the usual Google Places page. About 800 million locations have been converted to Google+ Local so far. With the acquisition of Frommer’s, those pages can be filled with reviews and other content from respected travel experts, as well as content from Zagat and local users’ opinions.
Wherever travelers go to search for vacation itinerary items, we definitely give a +1 (that’s a good thing in Google-speak) to better search results and richer content at their fingertips!