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Google Acquiring Frommer's In Big Travel Data Play

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the jes'-a-humble-and-clean-search-engine dept.

Google 40

Nerval's Lobster writes with the widely-reported news that Google plans to acquire from publisher John Wiley & Sons the Frommer's travel guides, along with Wiley's other travel-related publishing assets. "This marks Google's second purchase of a popular guide in less than a year. In September 2011, the search engine giant acquired Zagat, with the intention of mining the company's enormous trove of data on restaurants and local points of interest. Zagat scores and summaries now appear in the Google+ Local tab (present on the left rail of the Google+ profile page). Google's acquisition streak reveals a particular conundrum facing tech companies that offer travel and location services: you can assign thousands of the world's best software engineers the task of creating a simple, intuitive interface for ferreting out the best airline fares or restaurants—but sooner or later, you'll need to fill that system with reliable content."

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Happy Tuesday from the Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985063)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Dangerous Tuesday from Lee Majors! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40988115)

Well, I'm not the kind to kiss and tell, But I've been seen with Farrah.
I've never been with anything less than a nine, so fine.
I've been on fire with Sally Field, gone fast with a girl named Bo.
But somehow they just don't end up as mine...
It's a death-defying life I lead, I'll take my chances.
I've died for a living in the movies and tv.
But the hardest thing I'll ever do is watch my leading ladies,
Kiss some other guy while I'm bandaging my knee.

I might fall from a tall building, I might roll a brand-new car,
'Cause I'm the unknown stuntman that made Redford such a star.

I've never spent much time in school, but I taught ladies plenty.
It's true I hire my body out for pay, hey hey!
I've gotten burned over Cheryl Tiegs, blown up over Rachel Welch
But when I wind up in the hay, it's only hay, hey hey!
I might jump an open drawbridge, or Tarzan from a vine,
'Cause I'm the unknown stuntman, that makes Eastwood look so fine.

They'll never make me president, but I got the best first ladies
Someday's I got'em as far as the eye can see - ouee
A morning dove with Jacky Smith, a crash in the night with Cheryl
But in the end they never stay with me
On my fall from the Tower Building, so Burt Reynolds don't get hurt
I might leap the mighty Canyon, so he can kiss and flirt
Well, that smooth talker's kissing my girl - I'm just kissing dirt
Yes, I'm the lonely stuntman, that made a lover out of Burt

Anti-trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985107)

Come on, this has got to be getting into anti-trust issues.

Re:Anti-trust? (4, Interesting)

RobbieCrash (834439) | about 2 years ago | (#40985157)

Purchasing services doesn't mean you're being anti-competitive. []

Re:Anti-trust? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#40985181)

Sadly true.
Case in point, AT&T has almost reformed its monopoly.
Cell phone providers are down to 4 major players (with actual cell tower infrastructure).
1960s, here we come!

Re:Anti-trust? (2)

Krojack (575051) | about 2 years ago | (#40985255)

You mean this? Colbert's take on AT&T []

Re:Anti-trust? (1)

jhoegl (638955) | about 2 years ago | (#40985315)

ebaumsworld still exists?
I will never visit... thanks.
Ebaums world sucks []

Re:Anti-trust? (3, Insightful)

gmanterry (1141623) | about 2 years ago | (#40985303)

Come on, this has got to be getting into anti-trust issues.

Sorry, but the anti trust laws went the way of the Constitution. Both are completely ignored now. That's why we have companies that are too big to fail. Anti trust laws should have limited banks like Chase buying up all the competition. That's why we no longer have nice honest small town banks anymore.

Re:Anti-trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985441)

But now we have it so everyone can buy a home (the excuse they used to sell it to us, we know the real reason).

Re:Anti-trust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40991431)

That's why we no longer have nice honest small town banks anymore.

Where do you live? In my hometown of 60,000 people, there are at least four off the top of my head (and I haven't lived there in over a decade). In my current city (one of the ten most populous in the country), there are dozens of local credit unions.

Google can always pay me to be a food critic (1, Interesting)

zbobet2012 (1025836) | about 2 years ago | (#40985217)

And a few thousand other people :).

Re:Google can always pay me to be a food critic (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#40985775)

The food was not undelicious...

reliable and useful content that's profitable (1)

vlm (69642) | about 2 years ago | (#40985221)

but sooner or later, you'll need to fill that system with reliable content.

... reliable and useful content that's profitable. Or write it off as advertising expense.

I donno about making money off travel guides on the internet. I imagine they sell a heck of a lot of books to people who never use them. So they don't have to be that accurate or up to date and they profit off people who never use the data. Its a gift type of product.

But the only people using the online data are "actually using it" and they're going to be pissed off when its out of date. So less profit and more hassle... may be better off sticking to selling the books.

On the plus side, I donno I guess file it as advertising expense or a loss leader. On the minus side people who get inaccurate data are going to be mad at you...

Re:reliable and useful content that's profitable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985415)

>> people who get inaccurate data are going to be mad at you...

Google will distribute via handhelds and the internet rather than the dead tree method and we all know there is no inaccurate data on the internet, so, problem solved.

Wikitravel (5, Informative)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#40985249)

This makes open-source content projects such as Wikitravel (currently under consideration to be adopted by the Wikimedia Foundation [] ) all the more important.

Re:Wikitravel (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 2 years ago | (#40988245)

I like Wikitravel and think it has value, but on the downside, just about every guide book I've ever seen is better. Then again, I can actually point to places that Wikitravel covers and no guide book does. And Wikitravel sometimes has up to date transportation information (ie. "The new metro is now open in _____") that is missing in printed guide books. But guide books may have more detailed maps, information about places to visit, and better information about getting from A to Z in a particular place.

Re:Wikitravel (1)

tverbeek (457094) | about 2 years ago | (#40990805)

Most of Wikitravel's shortcomings could be solved by more participation.

Baffling strategy (1)

mclaincausey (777353) | about 2 years ago | (#40985323)

"OK, now that folks value crowd-sourcing over professional editorial reviews, let's corner the market on professional editorial reviews."--Google

Re:Baffling strategy (5, Interesting)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40985357)

Google's managed to attract only pretty low-quality reviews via crowdsourcing so far. Check out some random places near you: they're much worse than even Yelp or TripAdvisor on the whole. So either they can try to figure out how to fix that, or they can leave it as a cesspool, or they can give up on the crowdsourcing and buy some editorial reviews. Looks like they took the latter strategy.

It seems reasonably smart to me. In maps/location type stuff Google's advantage is their interfaces and technology, not their ability to compete with someone like Yelp in community-building. So if they can populate their technology with a big batch of purchased content, that's probably a win.

Re:Baffling strategy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985589)

OK, now that folks value crowd-sourcing over professional editorial reviews

Which folks are those? The ones who never see ads anyway, or the ones whose eyes Google sells for advertising?

Advertising and editorial reviewing, are an authoritarian game ("tell me what to buy") and go well together. If you're in the ad biz, then your business model is based on the assumption that there is still sufficient amount of public who values (or acts as though they value) that way of thinking, over distributed power.

And when I used the word "sufficient" above, I hope most people guffawed at what a ludicrous understatement that was. Your "folks who value crowd-sourcing" barely exist, from a GDP perspective.

If I may stretch things and grind an axe a bit, let's see what percentage of voters vote against Obama/Romney in the upcoming presidential election. There's your non-authoritarian mindshare, proven through deeds in the voting booth. Maybe things have changed by 2012, but as of 2008 you have to admit, only a negligible share of people thought that opinion/values + analysis + decision-making-power should be distributed across the populace, rather than handed down dogmatically from central authorities.

Wallet voting is little different than political voting. Both reveal how people think.

Re:Baffling strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985913)

How in the hell does voting for some fringe whacko like Gary "Cave" Johnson, Cynthia McKrazybitch, or Ralph Nadir have anything to do with "distributed decision-making"?

Re:Baffling strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40986309)

Nader. Ralph Nader. Far from a fringe whacko, at least when compared against the candidates put forth by the Republicrats.

Re:Baffling strategy (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 2 years ago | (#40985641)

"OK, now that folks value crowd-sourcing over professional editorial reviews, let's corner the market on professional editorial reviews."--Google

I don't think that its established that people value crowdsourcing more. People may use it more because crowd-sourced tools have been easy to integrate into online mobile services without expending money (besides that to build the service) to acquire the review content. And what people do value is reviews that they have no-cost, direct access to in online mobile services.

Professional editorial reviews from top-reputation outlets -- where the traditional firms have revenue models based around selling guides -- haven't been available in that venue.

Re:Baffling strategy (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985849)

Nonsense. When I look for "sushi restaurant near Baltimore" on Google Maps, I want to know which one is actually going to be worth a damn. Google's strategy of using Yelp and then later their in-house review system failed at that; this is a way to do better. There's some sibling comment here ranting about how this is a symptom of authoritarianism or something like that, but it's nothing of the sort; it's pragmatism. When my goal is "get some decent sushi", using random selection, or trial and error, or whatever, will get me generally poor success results. I need an actual source of information, and the sources of information previously served through GMaps were subpar.

Re:Baffling strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40988119)

Nanami in Fells point

Re:Baffling strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40986009)

Yes. Because what I value is a system explicitly and blatantly gamed by any asshole who wants to turn his one less-than-perfect experience at some restaurant into a panic. What I value is a system populated by a generation brainwashed into viewing the world in shades of hate, no exceptions. What I value is a system run by a bunch of twats who think they're going to be the next Yahtzee of Zero Punctuation, only for restaurants. What I value is a cesspool of spam, trolls, Joe jobs, and spoiled brats whining that they had to move their too-trendy fat asses outside of their homes for an hour or so to eat food that doesn't come from a delivery guy.

No, wait, you're right. It's a wikiality world, just like Colbert said: If enough people on a popular enough website says it's true, it must be true.

Re:Baffling strategy (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | about 2 years ago | (#40986117)

I think there's value in both honestly. If I'm traveling to Germany and I'm sitting in the middle of Munich looking for a quick and decent bite to eat near The Residenz, something like Yelp! has a lot of value. Even if the reviews are in German I can piece together enough of the language, and use the "Star" system well enough, to find someplace decent. I get to eat a fair to good lunch and everyone wins. If I want to find a nice restaurant to take my wife later that evening, something more like Zagat's or Fromer's would be more appropriate. Munich is a big city, the ability find and read reviews of particularly well know or popular restaurants, in my own native language, is useful.

Now back home, I'd be inclined to use Yelp! for either situation. After all, I know enough about my own city to give me a starting point for finding good places. When I'm traveling though, particularly when I'm traveling somewhere that English isn't the native tongue, editorial reviews have a very real place in my planning. Hell, even here at home I use a certain amount of editorial content. I watch the The Phantom Gourmet I've been known to check out restaurants they recommend.

Re:Baffling strategy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40987197)

You'd be AMAZED how many people still rely on things like AAA for their travel suggestions. It's still a pretty big business.

Zagat (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985335)

No one has ever beaten Zagat! And no one ever will!

Not enought input from the google cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40985957)

So they had to go and buy some local information. They didn't get enough off the people driving the google cars for streetmaps?

Yelp sucks (3, Informative)

bobbutts (927504) | about 2 years ago | (#40986549)

At least in my town there are some awful restaurants that have all the negative reviews "Filtered" and receive good ratings, above legitimately good restaurants. I've found the reviews on to be more trustworthy.

Here's an interesting fact... (1)

abareasol (1784308) | about 2 years ago | (#40986697)

... you made out with your sister!!!! Couldn't resist :>)

Where's the good chef (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40986901)

It's a bit like those streets where they have the sales people out front trying to get you in to their restaurant . All down to a good pitch and who's cooking your food being irrelevant to your choice. Big bonus for the ones that spot the guide book bwankers on their whirl wind tour of wherever tourists might go. Then of course there are those places only locals go, never to appear on any review, street view, or guide book. Oh, and, I hate those reviews of places because they buy advertising. Then there is the PR shites and their wealthy clients.

Me I like the chaos theory of tourism and eating out. Or, even better getting to know the chefs and cooks in the places they like to drink. If you're not confused by now, did you ever really know if that was cat or chicken?

Will places which buy Google ads get good reviews? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40987631)

Since Google gets revenue from ads, I'm wondering if the "Do no evil" company will be tempted to implement a policy of "restaurants who buy Google ads get an extra star on their review". What's next, will Bing try a similar strategy & buy Consumer Reports?

Re:Will places which buy Google ads get good revie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40991785)

You're an idiot.

Only Yelp does that.

ITA Travel Software (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about 2 years ago | (#40988793) []

Couple of years ago Google bought ITA software which makes online travel booking software.

Buying a company for travel content seems to be along those lines.

Could be an extention of Google Map someday that you basically point out where you are, and where you would like to be, and google will handle the rest for you.

Arthur Frommer (1)

DarthVain (724186) | about 2 years ago | (#40988863)

Also note that the link shows Arthur Frommer ower of the afore mentioned Frommer's Travel Guides commented on Google's aquisition of ITA and seemed pretty in favor of Google. Interesting. Tinfoil Hat Activate!

Now then, where did I put my time machine? (1)

Weatherlawyer (2596357) | about 2 years ago | (#40994779)

What we really need is an outlay like this that can be used by General Patton and ...who was that imbecile they replaced him with for D-Day?

It looks a bit like a wheel barrow with antenna like handles and those hydrostatic non-friction wheels (that haven't been invented yet.)

Only bigger.

Google Travel on the cards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41005521)

Google Can Disrupt Travel Industry With Their Suite of Products - "Google Travel" On The Cards?

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