EXCLUSIVE: Google appears to be building travel portal- maybe with Orbitz?

 This news may sound far afield of this blog, but not really. Hear me out.
Written by Russell Shaw, Contributor

This news may sound far afield of this blog, but not really. Hear me out.

The screen cap you see at the top of this entry is from a post on the Job Listings site of mediabistro.com. As you can note, this listing is for "Google: Senior Account Executive, Travel Vertical."

In Internet  parlance, "Vertical" is often used to describe specialized content organized into a channel. Google and Yahoo! are two companies that frequently categorize their channels as "channel.xxx.com- i.e., travel.yahoo,.com, maps.google.com, etc.

But if you try and type travel.google.com, you get a "this page cannot be displayed" error.

For now that is.

Let's look at this job listing a bit more closely.

"Your main responsibility is to drive new business revenue growth with our Fortune 1000 advertisers in a specified vertical in one or more regions," the ad says.
Responsibilities include:

Work collaboratively with your team to grow revenue with new and existing vertical customers.

Utilize strong knowledge of vertical client base and agencies in your region(s) to develop high-level relationships.

Work consultatively with major customers to optimize their marketing spends.

Understand and adapt to Google’s ongoing development of advertiser products.

I gotta tell you, all this lingo really sounds to me that Google is building a Google Travel brand. This position is for someone to draw advertisers to that brand.

Of course, that's only a start. You would need content, and then a booking engine.

Now, let us consider the content. Google could work with any number of content partners, but could also include travel selections from its Google Video inventory. These selections could be integrated with destination guides, and even with keyword searches entered into Google Travel searches.

Booking the Wyndham Hotel in Arlington, Tex. just outside Dallas? Or just seeking information about it? In addition to the requisite AdWords that Google could sell for placement on Google Travel, you might notice an option to see a video like this:


Of course, though, Google Travel would need some sort of online booking engine to enable site visitors to reserve hotel rooms, flights, rental cars, and so forth.

So who might that be?

Not Travelocity, who is partners with Google rival Yahoo! in Yahoo! Travel.

Not Expedia or Hotels.com, both of which are owned by were recently spun off by- but still have relationships with interActive Corp., also owner of Google rival Ask.com.

So what about Orbitz? They are owned by Cendant, itself owner of several hotel chains such as Wyndham, Ramada, Days Inn, Wingate Inn and Super 8.  They also own car rental companies such as Avis and Budget.

Perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not, but Orbitz happens to be based in Chicago, as apparently Google Travel will be.

Google Talk's role could be as a click-to-call feature for listed hotels, restaurants, and maybe even Orbitz customer service.

Too many clues to just be a bunch of grasped-at straws here. 

All this information makes me believe that Google is building a travel portal that will feature online booking, searchable travel information, full AdWords and AdSense integration, as well as high-bandwidth, streaming video of selected destinations and properties. 

Accordingly, my educated guess is that not long from now, you'll enter travel.google.com and won't reach a dead-end link.

No, you will be reaching Google Travel, a partnership between Google and Orbitz. 


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