Google Flight Search takes off


Google’s purchase of Cambridge-based ITA Software started paying off yesterday as the search giant rolled out Google Flight Search, which could help it take a bite of the multibillion-dollar online travel market.

“Once Google bought ITA, everybody knew they were going to do something,” said Edward Woo, an analyst at equity research firm Wedbush. “It’s a competitive marketplace, they’ll have to stay one step ahead of Google.”

Woo wasn’t impressed with the beta test, which directs users to airline Web sites. He said it could be another year before Google makes a dent in the $165 billion online travel booking business. But eventually, Google will cut into the revenue of the big three travel sites — Expedia, Travelocity and Orbitz, Woo said.

“On the other hand, business continues to grow steadily,” he said. “There may be enough room for everybody.”

ITA develops algorithms that power travel Web sites such as Orbitz and Kayak, which has an office in Concord. The U.S. Department of Justice approved Google’s $700 million acquisition of ITA in April.

“We’re confident in our ability to compete, and we believe our flight search technology is superior,” said Kayak chief marketing officer Robert Birge in a statement. “We recognize Google is a formidable competitor, but they haven’t been successful in every vertical they’ve entered.”

Brittany Loughlin, chief operating officer of Gtrot, a “social travel” start-up that moved from Cambridge to Chicago in January, called Google Flight Search, with which Gtrot doesn’t compete, “smart and intuitive.”

“They’ll capture a lot of travel intent,” she said. “If they offer targeted ads in the big, empty space to the right of the results — travel ads on AdWords have been so expensive because it’s so dense — that could be a great opportunity for Gtrot.”

Boston herald