Carson City, NV (PRWEB) January 31, 2008
Kayak and SideStep’s merger last November is shaking up the travel search industry like never before. The merger of the top two travel meta search engines has ignited a major discussion about where this industry is heading now that there is a main stream player out there. The two companies announced that they would have a combined search traffic of 33Mio unique searches in January alone, leaving most smaller players far behind. Some of the smaller companies however recognize this change but see much opportunity in it. Travelgrove.com a Nevada based travel search engine is one of those that believe in major innovation still to happen thus leaving the playing field level.
Peter Suhayda, CEO and co-founder of Travelgrove.com, says that “investment will always create large companies, but it’s not always the money that drives innovation, but the need for change”. Peter Suhayda believes that smaller travel search engines like Travelgrove will be looking for smart ways to re-invent their sites so that they appeal to the crowds and can spread via word of mouth. “Sites that cannot cope with this change will be washed out from the market place very soon, and Travelgrove is prepared to handle it the right way”, Peter Suhayda adds.
Bigger reach, however, and strong financial backing does give Kayak and SideStep a large edge over the smaller players like Farecast, Travelgrove, or Mobissimo. The difference in search volume is very large and you could claim that there is no second tier travel search company anymore, but rather one first tier and several third tier players. At the first look, this seems to be the same type of search market development that we saw with the broader search companies. What’s different though this time is the fact that the lead has been created by strong financial backing rather than organic growth.
Many industry experts now believe that one reason why Kayak and Sidestep had merged may be a need for their original investors to exit. The two companies had raised a combined $ 300 Mio in venture capital so far, a lot of money that is on the line for investors. With the newly gained reach, it seems like the companies are large enough together to do an IPO and make investors happy.
This is just what Travelgrove is hoping for. “An IPO of these two companies”, says Mr Suhayda, “will slow down the execution process as well as innovation and will force them to focus on public investors rather than on users which in turn will give the little guys an edge”.
Whether Kayak and SideStep can become the next Google of travel is questionable. While Google mainly grew via word of mouth, Kayak and SideStep as well as other vertical search engines grew via ad spend. Nobody will doubt the technological lead that these two companies have gained, but nobody has really built an application that will win this market in the long run, but these two companies have certainly put themselves in the perfect position to dominate this market in the future. Travelgrove will focus on building innovative tools and applications that put the user back in the driver seat.