Since 2014 Google Flights offered passengers details beyond just flight times and prices in its search results. The company began integrating data from Routehappy to give travelers more insight into seat pitch, wifi availability, inflight entertainment and more. That program is set to expand as the two companies renew and extend the partnership, adding Universal Ticket Attributes (UTAs) and Universal Product Attributes (UPAs) into search results. The Google deal follows similar arrangements recently announced with CTrip and TravelSky.
Google flights was one of the first to include amenities data in its search results, a differentiating factor that improves the value of the metasearch engine for travelers. Google’s implementation is somewhat limited – details available from the amenities feed are not always included in the search results. Details on exactly how the additional data will be integrated into the metasearch results remains unclear at this time. Robert Albert, EVP Retailing at ATPCO, notes, “Google already uses Amenities, which is a form of rich content, and the new agreement now also gives them access to UPAs and UTAs. While we can’t comment on Google’s roadmap and timeline, given the long term and strategic nature of the deal, ATPCO is actively working together with them, and will be providing all the necessary support for their efforts to roll out UPAs and UTAs to best take advantage of the booking flow.”
UTAs provide easy-to-understand information by fare about benefits and restrictions such as cancellation rules, baggage allowance, upgrade eligibility, check-in, and boarding priority, making it easier for flight-seekers to discover important ticket attributes associated with each flight. UPAs visually highlight in-flight features through descriptive text, photos, graphics, and videos, significantly improving the shopping experience for consumers by showcasing comprehensive product and fare offerings.
Google Flights’ search results tend to focus on minimizing distractions while streamlining the data returned. Adding in a flag for change fees or ticket refundability might be seen as a step too far, particularly in markets where they are relatively homogenized. Similarly, photos or videos of the cabin or possible upsell opportunities might be more detail than the company wants to share. Then again, if it can coordinate a commission structure for some of those upsells would be an easy win for all parties involved. At a minimum, however, the deal means continued access to the useful data that the company has published for five years, details that travelers depend on when researching their flight options.
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