Travel brands mull informal pacts to battle Google trademark shift

A number of UK travel companies would consider “gentleman’s agreements” to prevent escalating keyword costs as a result of Google’s decision to scrap trademark protection.

Travolution has learned that discussions have already taken place between major travel companies from a variety of sectors after Google reversed a long-standing policy to protect bidding on company brand names.

Some travel companies are also seeking legal advice in a bid to ensure rivals and other travel providers do not exploit the switch.

It is feared that a sudden open playing field will produce an extremely costly bidding war between major players in the industry.

As a result, it is believed that informal discussions have taken place behind the scenes between rival companies to agree not to bid on one another’s brand names.

Other senior executives across the industry contacted by Travolution have confirmed they would be interested in an informal arrangement to prevent escalating keyword costs.

Travolution reported last week that one leading UK travel brand estimated that 25% of its current PPC budget might be needed to protect its brand name in Google search.

Another major company executive suggested a similar figure this week if the widely expected “feeding frenzy” takes place.

One senior figure told Travolution: “There is a desire for this to not to get completely out of hand and therefore it makes sense for like-minded companies to come to some agreement.”

It is widely feared that a similar situation to that which occurred in the US in 2004 will take place in the UK when the trademark ban is lifted in early-May.

“There was so much money blown in those first few weeks it was incredible. We do not want to be in that situation again,” an executive who worked in the US at the time said this week.

A Google spokesman said: “Brands have always been able to come to an agreement amongst themselves and this new policy does not change that position.”

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