Expedia Partner Conference 2017: Expedia strategy chief sets out views on Google and Iata’s NDC

Expedia Partner Conference 2017: Expedia strategy chief sets out views on Google and Iata’s NDC

Travel suppliers were urged to diversify their source of traffic to ensure they are not overly reliant on Google.

Ike Anand, vice president of strategy at Expedia, told delegates at the 2017 partner conference in Las Vegas, that Google was “an impressive company”.

“They are smart, they are innovative and they are a great partner of ours. Together we can have a very useful long term industry partnership.

“Having said that anytime any company in any industry has more than 80% market share like Google has for search there’s always a potential for abuse of that market power.

“It’s safe to say that all of us should look at diversifying our sources of traffic and there is no harm in that.”

Anand said to illustrate his point that if any start-ups today looking for investors in Silicon Valley say their source of traffic will be Google that is the “wrong answer”.

“They do not want your business predicated on Google,” he said.

Asked what Expedia has been doing with Iata’s New Distribution Capability standard in aviation, Anand said it was a misperception that the OTA has been reluctant to use it.

He pointed out Expedia has been a member of the NDC advisory board since its inception, although he questioned what was now ‘new’ about it given was announced in 2012.

“When you think about our place in the air business we have always looked at our partners’ feedback and their desire to do retailing.

“We were the first to launch amenities and fare from Routehappy, first to launch bag fees, first to scale up on branded fares.

“We have been at the forefront of doing the innovation that airlines want.

“While we are very supportive of airline networks’ incentives to innovate we are always very conscious of the impact on GDS [Global Distribution System] shoppers.

“We want to feel that our shoppers do not feel discriminated against and we want to do this in a scalable manner.

“Our volume of searches has to flow through a system and that system has to be scalable. There are things that we need for NDC to be successful. We will invest when the time is right.”

Iata’s NDC has been controversial in that it was portrayed as a way for airlines to bypass the GDSs and for airlines to push direct connect agreements with carriers.

However, GDSs say they are now ready to use the new standard but the technology remains in its infancy and a number of airlines have already started to charge GDS fees including BA, Lufthansa and Air France-KLM.

A number of deals have been done for third parties to avoid GDSs charges and the trade has complained that NDC-based direct connectivity is not yet ready to take the place of GDS feeds.

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