Google directs would-be travelers to Google’s owned products first, like its Google Hotel Finder, as seen below on a representative mobile display. Consumers must scroll to the fourth page to see non-Google, “organic” results:

Travelers want true and transparent choice when searching for travel options: results based on relevance. However, consumers are presented with a curated display of Google’s owned and monetized products on Google instead. Google is a general search engine that leverages its position in general search to favor its own vertical search product.

Travel Tech supports S.2033, the American Innovation and Choice Online Act (AICOA) as introduced, to update existing antitrust law and provide enforcement agencies with modernized competition enforcement tools to address the vast inequities resulting from self-preferencing by the largest search platforms like Google, which abuse their dominant position and undermine competition and consumer choice.

“Google’s self-preferencing diverts travelers from relevant, non-biased, organic search results. U.S. policymakers should continue pursuing legislation to promote unbiased online competition, which would benefit and support all travelers and the travel industry.”

Laura Chadwick, President & CEO, Travel Technology Association

Self-preferencing practices are not limited to the travel sector. Other industries are similarly impacted when their competing websites are pushed lower on the search results page, leading to decreased web traffic and business activity.

AICOA declares self-preferencing actions by the largest online platforms that materially harm competition – as seen in online travel searches today – unlawful. AICOA would also ban practices that limit the ability of other businesses to compete with the products and services offered by the largest online platforms. Per the proposed legislation, these platforms can defend their practices as reasonably tailored and necessary to maintain or substantially enhance their core functionality.

Travel Tech calls on Congress to support AICOA and take up the legislation as soon as possible to enhance consumer choice and competition.

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