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Rise of Google as a Powerhouse in Online Travel Case Study including Trends, Motivations, Marketing Strategies, Opportunities and Challenges

This case study looks at Google’s emergence in online travel. It discusses key events selected from an in-depth timeline of Google's rise in online travel, adresses the impact Google has had on OTAs such as Expedia Group and Booking Holdings, selects patents assigned by Google relating to online travel, and considers the opportunities and challenges that Google now faces in this dynamic sector.

Key Highlights

– According to GlobalData, the global market value of online travel agencies (OTAs) hit ($480.3 billion) in 2019, increasing at a CAGR of (9.4) from 2015 to 2019. This rapid growth rate and future growth potential intensified Google’s focus on online travel. Even though Google made its first real steps into the online travel space in the early 2010s with its acquisition of ITA Software and the launch of Hotel Finder, its increased focus on the market in recent years has been evident. When looking at 2019 alone, Google launched its travel hub, added flight check-in and hotel booking abilities to Google Assistant, attached lodging listings to its Maps function, created a search site for hotel availability by destination, and Alphabet (Google’s parent company) even launched its own ride hailing app.

– Major companies such as Expedia Group and Booking Holdings would ideally want all bookings to be taken directly through their sites, so they do not have to carry on allocating vast amounts of their sales and marketing budgets on advertising with Google. With the company’s core online travel group, it was be able to increase its visibility in the travel space, which solidified its position as the dominant search engine in online travel. This move forced the likes of Expedia to carry on relying on Google for generating bookings, as now even more Google users will be directed towards its advertisements.

– Major companies in the online travel space have long stated their intentions to reduce reliance on Google for traffic generation, and increased regulation will help with this objective. However, Expedia Group garnered one million more visits from paid marketing with Google in March 2021 than it did in March 2019, which was pre-pandemic times. This shows that Google is necessary for the likes of Expedia Group and Booking.com, and it will still be some time until these OTAs can drive sufficient traffic levels to their sites without utilizing the search engine giant.

Reasons to Buy

– Gain an understanding of Google's position in online travel and why it is so dominant.

– Recognise the strategies that Google is using to shape its position in online travel.

– Gain an understanding of the opportunities and challenges Google faces in this space.

Key Players




Booking Holdings



InterContinental Hotels


Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Main Findings

Timeline of Google in online travel

July 2018: Hotel campaigns became part of the Google Ads platform

December 2018: Google rapidly expanded its ‘For You’ feature on Google Maps

May 2019: Google launched its core online travel group

March 2021: Google launched its Hotel Free Bookings Links program

November 2021: Google’s challenge against a $2.8 billion antitrust fine was rejected

Impact on the sector: Booking Holdings and Expedia Group

Google’s assigned patents in online travel

Opportunities for Google

Challenges for Google



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