Travel Search at a Crossroads

Global Distribution Systems, Social Networking, Local Knowledge, Vertical Search and Meta Search are encroaching on the traditional search territory. Meta Search travel sites, like Kayak, offer better search for travel. Social networks and consumer sites like TripAdvisor, are improving the travel experience by offering relevant unbiased advice, much favored over paid search results.

Social networking sites, like TripAdvisor (acquired by Expedia) and IgoUgo (acquired by Travelocity), are taking searches away from traditional search engines.
Kayak now receives more than 6 million unique visitors a month. Expedia has caught Google’s attention, but for now, seems not to be a takeover target! They are moving, instead, to create more social media and community content. Already, about 50% of travelers use some sort of online social media site to research their plans, says Rob Torres, Google’s Managing Director for Travel.

And now, we have Web 3.0 agents like Uptake, a variation on Meta search, promising to simplify the travel research and planning process, by amalgamating and personalizing the whole lot.

The erosion of search in favour of these sites is with good reason. The travel technology platform has developed far beyond the capabilities of generic search.

Travelers need to know details on costs and features that are specific to their own unique requirements.

Travel Search engines, like Kayak and Sidestep (acquired by Kayak), do this. Underlying is a travel platform, including bookings and quotation systems, like, and integrated solutions. like

Traditional search engines just don’t deliver these precise results. Try looking for a hotel near Bridgetown, in Barbados, in the price range of $250 to $500. Google will give you a lot of results, mostly links to booking sites. You need to go to a booking or quotation site like for this. Try searching for Barbados 5 star hotels, chances are that Sandy Lane, voted one of the top ten Hotels in the world, will not be in the top lists. As the search engines move further down the road to paid clicks, search results become even more eroded, less relevant and still imprecise.

In addition to these trends, their is a growing list of specialty local sites like AXSES’ own, Barbados Bookings and reservations center and trip planning. These sites put users in contact with Hotels directly. More and more travelers want to contact their host. They feel they have better communications with a hotel as opposed to a Meta site dealing with thousands of properties and thousands more travelers. The smaller regional sites also provide better on-the-location information, giving local knowledge and advice. Sites, like, help travelers put together their own, made to measure, itinerary, with options that may not be found anywhere else. Like stargazing with Leo: bring your own wine, he supplies the telescope and the story of the stars. You will not find that on Expedia or Kayak.

“Seeking information and looking for perspective–like-minded experience and judgments–are currently trumping the straightforward hunt for the best price”, says Douglas Quinby, Senior Director of Research at PhoCusWright.

What we need is more consolidation through advanced information engineering. The future web will be about bringing services and technology together in a powerful information delivery system. New technology, such as and, using advanced Web 3.0 techniques and creating expert systems from layers of knowledge and professional understanding, are doing just that.

Ian R. Clayton, AXSES


Connecting You With Your Intimate Bot (Semantic Web 3.0)
The Gap In Google’s Defenses (virtual search)
Travel Web Sites Get Personal
Advertising at a Crossroads