Google (GOOG) To Enhance Travel Searches With Frommer’s Acquisition

Google (GOOG) acquired popular travel guide brand Frommer’s earlier this week in a move that is believed to help the search giant. Google has already announced plans to partner the Frommer’s segment with its recently acquired restaurant rating company Zagat.

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Frommer’s was founded in 1957 by Arthur Frommer. Frommer wrote a guide book about European destinations for army soldiers. His guidebook was then turned into the first Frommer’s book Europe on $5 A Day. The company he started is now one of the most popular and most trusted travel guide companies.

Google’s goal with the acquisition is to “provide a review for every relevant place in the world”.  Google has now acquired several review and travel brands with Frommer’s, Zagat, and ITA. The Zagat acquisition gave Google the ability to show a rating for restaurants in search listings along with phone numbers and addresses. Google has been working hard at giving consumers relevant information in search results. The end result is that less people are clicking through on actual links in search results.

A perfect example of Google’s new search technology is biographies. If you run a search for a popular person, Google actually showcases a small biography of the person along with search results. Hre is a sample of what a search for Warren Buffett returns on Google:

Warren Edward Buffett is an American business magnate, investor, and philanthropist.  He is widely considered the most successful investor of the 20th century. He is the  primary shareholder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway. Wikipedia

Born: August 30, 1930 (age 81), Omaha
Net worth: US$ 44 billion (2012)
Spouse: Astrid Menks (m. 2006), Susan Buffett (m. 1952–2004)
Children: Howard Graham Buffett, Peter Buffett, Susan Alice Buffett
Education: Columbia Business School (1950–1951), University of
Nebraska–Lincoln (1950–1950), Wharton School of the University of
Pennsylvania (1947–1949), University of PennsylvaniaMore
Appears in: Buffett & Gates Go Back to School

If I was looking to find out how old Buffett was, where he was born, or if he had kids, I wouldn’t need to click on any of the links, because the answer is right in front of me. Google is doing the same by integrating Zagat ratings and now Frommer’s. People searching for popular vacation destinations will soon see immediate results within the search result listings. The announcement of the Frommer’s acquisition sent shares of rival travel firms like Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, Yelp, and TripAdvisor all down.

Frommer’s comes to Google with a vast amount of material and research. Over the last fifty plus years, the company has produced over 300 guidebooks and covered the majority of the countries on Earth.  The company is said to cover over 3500 different destinations in detail. Frommer’s has been a part of popular publishing units like Simon & Schuster, Pearson, IDG Books, and John Wiley & Sons. More than seventy five million Frommer’s branded books have been sold. Here is a list of popular series within the Frommer’s family:

Frommer’s Complete Guides
Frommer’s With Kids
Frommer’s Day by Day
Frommer’s Portable Guides
Frommer’s Irrevent Guides
Frommer’s Memorable Works
Frommer’s Phrase Finder & Dictionaries
Frommer’s Driving Tours
Pauline Frommer’s Guide
The Unofficial Guides
For Dummies
Travel Guides
Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop Guides
Frommer’s National Park Guides
MTV Travel Guides

The deal by Google shows that the company is trying to control what we see and search for on the internet. As Google once relied on people clicking advertisements and links, the company is now buying into content to provide the best searching experience for consumers. The newest acquisition will see a slight hiccup in watchdog groups, but will pass regulators just like Zagat and ITA did.

Shares of the GOOG have been on a tear in recent weeks following a strong earnings report back in July with the stock up nearly 20% in just a month.  The stock hit a new 5 year high a few days ago and appears to be headed to take on all time highs around the $750 range, although it may need a bit of a rest before that happens.

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