Etihad Airways is the latest airline to join with Google and its arguably formidable flight search functionality, but will the move hurt travel agents?
The partnership will enable consumers to access Etihad Airways’ flight schedules and view live ticket prices via Google’s Flight Search (www.google.com/flights).
An Etihad spokesperson told Traveltalk that travel agents are still a “very popular booking channel” due to their “strong product knowledge and personalised service”.
“We don’t anticipate that our partnership with Google will change this,” the spokesperson said.
When Flight Search first launched in 2011, online travel agents (OTAs) were the most worried and even formed an alliance to oppose Google’s bid to buy a company that developed software that OTAs used to collate schedules, availability and fares.
Google has since rejigged Flight Search and when you have a play with it, it does what it should and does it well. But until Google births a real live Siri who experiences the world through which she travels and can then offer the advice, peace of mind and personal touch you get from a travel agent, I don’t think agents have too much to worry about.
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