What does ITA Software do? How does the technology work?
ITA Software’s QPX software uses algorithms to combine and parse multiple sets of flight information from airlines, including pricing and availability data, to create an up-to-date database that can be searched across.
Why are you buying ITA Software?
Google is buying ITA Software to create a new, easier way for users to find better flight information online. By combining ITA Software’s expertise with Google’s technology, we will be able to build new flight search tools for users that will make it easier for them to search for flights, compare flight options and prices, and get them quickly to sites where they can buy their tickets.
Why do you have to buy ITA Software, when you could just license their QPX service
from them like other websites do?
We think we can make more significant innovations and bigger breakthroughs in online flight search by combining our engineering expertise with ITA Software’s than we would by simply licensing ITA Software’s data service.
When will you launch these new flight search tools?
In addition to customary closing conditions, this deal will also be subject to regulatory review, which could take some time. We will not be able to begin work on product development with ITA Software until after the deal closes, and we cannot predict how soon after closing we will be able to offer a new product.
Will you be launching new ad formats? How would you monetize this new
Because we have just announced our agreement to acquire ITA Software, we don’t have detailed plans to share about how new flight search tools will be triggered or appear on Google results pages, or how they will be monetized.
Doesn’t this mean that Google’s long-term plan is to enter the travel search
Searches for travel-related information are among the highest-volume queries we receive at Google. We are innovating in a number of ways to make it easier for users to search for travel information and to deliver more useful results to them. It’s also important to note that our goal will be to refer people quickly to a site where they can actually purchase flights, and that we have no plans to sell flights ourselves.
Will links to existing travel meta-search companies be de-emphasized to favor
Google’s new flight search tools?
Because we have just announced our agreement to acquire ITA Software, we don’t have detailed plans to share about how new flight search tools will be triggered or appear on Google results pages or how they will be monetized. Our goal has always been to provide users with what we think is the best and most useful information possible. No matter what type of flight search tools we eventually develop, we will, of course, clearly label any results displayed as the result of a commercial relationship with Google.
Are you trying to compete with companies like Orbitz and Kayak?
The online travel industry is competitive, with a range of companies that provide different solutions for users. Google is interested in building new flight search tools for users that will make it easier for them to search for flights, compare available flight options and prices, and get them quickly to sites where they can buy their tickets. We’ll work to continue to have productive partnerships with as many online travel companies and industry players as possible.
How is this related to the Travel or Flight Status search information that is
already available on Google? Does ITA Software power those already?
Google currently offers two travel search features. First, our flight tracker search feature enables users to see flight status for arriving and departing US flights. When users type the name of the airline and the flight number (e.g. “united 741”) into the search box, Google will return updated flight information from flightstats.com. Second, we offer a travel search feature to help users looking to book travel. For example, search for [New York to SFO] and Google offers you the option to specify a date range and choose from a variety of online travel services to see results. Both features are aimed at improving search quality and neither is based on any financial compensation to or from Google. Neither feature relies on data from ITA Software.
Whatever form it takes, how can Google do something like this without unfairly
ranking its own content over competitors?
Our goal has always been to provide users with what we think is the best and most useful information possible. We see opportunities to improve the search experience for users searching for flight information on Google. It’s important to note that our goal will be to refer people quickly to a site where they can actually purchase flights, and that we have no plans to sell flights ourselves.
Does this acquisition require regulatory approval in the United States or
The transaction is subject to normal pre-merger notification procedures in the United States only. ITA Software’s European revenues aren’t large enough to warrant European regulatory review. We think this combination will benefit travelers as well as those seeking their business, but closer scrutiny has been one consequence of our success, and on that basis we wouldn’t be surprised if there were regulatory review before the deal closes.