Travel Search Overview: Informative or Commercial?

In the United States, the summer travel season is about to begin and the most used method for booking and researching travel options is the web.

Yahoo Travel has geared up to meet the demand, as well as launched a new Trip Recommendation module to boost their position in the space.

The last time Search Engine Watch looked at Travel search engines was in 2005. I had a look to see how the sites mentioned were doing., the UK engine, did not stand the test of time - though you would have thought someone would have at least made a deal for forwarding the traffic for some affiliate money....

AOL Pinpoint Travel is still there but now it is powered by Kayak. seems to be hanging in there. The site is clean and loads quickly and the travel guides are informative.

Expedia and Kayak are thriving. IgoUgo is still here and I have noticed it has an aggressive affiliate push.

Mobissimo, Orbit, Travelocity and SideStep all appear to be healthy.

Travelazer has become a custom Google search engine. TripAdvisor is growing its content and branding.

FareCompare is a newer entry and I met someone from the site at NYC SES. They seem to be committed to expansion and have a user friendly interface.

The online travel industry is always going to be competitive. Comparison and aggregator engines will be a big part of this space, but as Yahoo is developing now - the future source of the traffic may come from online communities discussing and sharing travel ideas.

Jasper Malcolmson, director of Yahoo! Travel, said "by tapping into the collective intelligence of other like-minded travelers, there is a greater ability to plan and take truly memorable trips -- no matter how near or far you want to go."

Combined with speciality engines like WhatsOnWhen the travel industry looks like it will continue to grow.

About the author

Frank Watson has been involved with the Web since it started. For the past five years, he headed SEM for FXCM -- at one time one of the top 25 spenders with AdWords. He has worked with most of the major analytics companies and pioneered the ability to tie online marketing with offline conversion.

He has now started his own marketing agency, Kangamurra Media. This new venture will keep him busy when he is not editing the Search Engine Watch forums, blogging at a number of authoritative sites, and developing some interesting online community sites.

He was one of the first 100 AdWords Professionals, a Yahoo and Overture Ambassador, and a member or mod of many of the industry forums. He is also on the Click Quality Council and has worked hard to diminish click fraud.