That’s a couple of million more than the next biggest, Expedia, which in a neat piece of business actually owns TripAdvisor.
Ergo, websites owned by Expedia, based in Seattle, Washington, also the home of Microsoft and Boeing, dominate global web travel traffic.
So has internet globalisation become Americanisation?
The answer is yes.
A little digging shows that most of the world’s biggest travel websites are controlled by American companies. Even when they are not in travel…
In this case, I refer to Google, the global default website, which has zillions of visitors each month, many of them looking for travel websites. So many, in fact, that that Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan estimate that Google derives 10% of its revenue from the travel industry.
On this basis, Google’s second quarter travel revenues were almost US$700m with net income (from travel alone) in the region of US$200m. it doesn’t have a single travel product.
Looking further afield, in Europe four of the five biggest online travel brands are American-owned … ebookers.com (Orbitz), Booking.com (Priceline). Lastminute.com (Travelocity) and Expedia. The exception is Opodo while HRS in Germany is also very powerful.
Asia is – as always – a somewhat different story but the only attempts at developing a genuine regional regional presence are being driven from the United States – Zuji (Travelocity), Agoda.com (Priceline) and Expedia (once again) through their own brands and investments in others such as eLong (Expedia) in China.
Certain key regional travel markets have for various reasons remained outside the American web – Japan being the most notable example – but the point has been made. For what purpose? Well, I’m not sure exactly, it’s just that when the Internet came into existence a lot of people thought it would encourage diversity.
However, the big portals through which people express themselves or buy goods are remarkably few and are mostly controlled by American educated executives residing in the United States.
Google, YouTube, eBay, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook, MySpace …. the list goes on. All run by very smart people but with remarkably similar cultural backgrounds. The Internet was invented by Americans and is still controlled by Americans.
There’s no reason travel should be any different.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing – it simply means there is a lack of diversity in a key area of an industry which prides itself on bringing the world together.