Google Expands Travel Business, Buys Frommer’s Travel Guide

Google is all set to expand its business into travel and review spaces as it snaps a deal with John Wiley & Sons travel guide brand, Frommer. Terms and price of the deal remain undisclosed.

This acquisition has marched Google’s entry into the world of travel, where the social search giant will compete with adversaries such as Yelp, CitySearch and TripAdvisor.

The deal was confirmed Monday in a news release by John Wiley & Sons, a travel review group, which was founded in 1957. The travel guide producer said that Frommer did not fit into its long-term plans. Wiley revealed that the company would use proceeds from the sale to grow its professional, scientific, technical, medical, scholarly and global education businesses.

There are analysts who believe Frommer to be a natural fit for Google as the latter hopes to increase its original content offerings. Google plans to fit Frommer into the same group as the Zagat food guide, which the firm acquired in September under the guidance of former Google and current Yahoo! chief executive Marissa Mayer. Frommer currently publishes 300 guidesbooks via Frommers.com. On throwing light on the acquisition, the internet giant declared its hope to offer a review on every important place in the world.

Currently, Google uses Zagat data in its search results to offer users ratings on Zagat restaurants along with their addresses and phone numbers.

Some experts believe that the recent change to include Gmail results in search can be a way by Google to facilitate local discovery. Frommer’s acquisition by Google is hoped to strengthen the latter’s offering in travel and search.

In April 2011, Google faced some resistance from the critics of travel industry as it acquired the travel search firm ITA. The deal was called unfair as Google was accused of leveraging its search market share to promote its own content. The Justice Department approved the deal in April 2011, but with conditions saying that Google license its software and continue to fund software research in the industry.

The news of Google and Frommer’s deal, however, was not as good for other travel sites as shares of Yelp and TripAdvisor slumped by five to seven percent following the announcement. Other sites including Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline also saw some drops.

Google shares saw a rise of 2.5 percent, for a share price of $658.83.… Read the rest

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