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Google Acquiring Frommer's In Big Travel Data Play 40

Posted by timothy
from the jes'-a-humble-and-clean-search-engine dept.
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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Google Acquiring Frommer's In Big Travel Data Play

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  • And a few thousand other people :).
  • 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    But the only people using the online data are "actually using it" and they're going to be pissed off when its out of date.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 ha

  • Wikitravel (Score:5, Informative)

    by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @11:41AM (#40985249) Homepage

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

    • 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.
  • "OK, now that folks value crowd-sourcing over professional editorial reviews, let's corner the market on professional editorial reviews."--Google
    • Re:Baffling strategy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @11:51AM (#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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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

    • "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 se

    • by Anonymous Coward

      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 what

    • 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

  • by Anonymous Coward

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

  • Yelp sucks (Score:4, Informative)

    by bobbutts (927504) <bobbutts@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 14, 2012 @01:40PM (#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 tripadvisor.com to be more trustworthy.
  • ... you made out with your sister!!!! Couldn't resist :>)
  • http://www.google.com/press/ita/ [google.com]

    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.

    • 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!

  • And Lonely Planet is one hell of a lot more important than Frommers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lonely_Planet [wikipedia.org]

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