Some would suggest that when the BBC Worldwide acquired the Lonely Planet publishing unit they were looking to build a travel brand that could add value to their content, create a community and create a holistic source of travel information. Merely acquiring a travel publisher didn’t make business sense. However, sometime that and makes a marriage hard work. Some would suggest that this is probably where the BBC / Lonely Plant relationship is today.
Now Google has shown it too has eyes on the global travel business, but for different reasons. Today Google has added to its 2010 acquisition of flight booking service company ITA Software and its more recent £150 million acquisition of Zagat’s, with a raid on Wiley book publishing trade business and acquired Frommers. Earlier this year, Wiley had put its trade business on the block and were looking to disinvest and they must be both surprised and happy with the off loading of the Frommer brand. Wiley still have to find buyers for the other non core units, but given their tight vertical nature they didn’t sit easily with Frommer, or as Wiley have deduced, with themselves.
Google have now got two significant pieces to the travel lifestyle model and one that will sit easily with both their business and consumer local and international, search and advertising revenues. Will it continue to publish Frommer, or flip the brand online and into the greater Google mix? According to eMarketer the online advertising within the US travel industry is estimated to be worth over $2.5 million, with online travel booking clocking up over $100 million last year. Both markets are growing at a significant rate and price Google is paying Wiley is likely to be chump change in the exchange for the advertising revenue potential and added value the information it could offer and its obvious synergy with products such as Google maps, YouTube and their other products .
The question this raises is whether some publishers will find it hard to resist the potential cheques that could be offered by outside interests who may see the content as a means to a bigger end? The other question is whether those left behind on the shelf will be further marinalised? Its hard to see book publishers buying up outside businesses but is now easy to see outside interests buying up certain publishers.
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