Frommer's Gets a New Traveling Companion in Google

By Steve Anderson August 13, 2012

Earlier today, Google announced plans to acquire Frommer's, the travel-related arm of publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc. The exact terms of the deal weren't announced, however, we do have at least some idea of what Google had in mind when it bought Frommer's.

The deal, expected to close shortly, was designed to give Google a bit of an edge in terms providing local reviews to places that aren't local to Mountain View. John Wiley & Sons Inc, meanwhile, had been reportedly planning to sell Frommer's since March, as it "no longer aligned with its long-term strategies".

This isn't the first big acquisition for Google in the travel circles, either, as back in 2011, Google also bought restaurant review titan Zagat in a bid to bolster its local presences. Some have speculated that the Frommer's brand will get incorporated into the Zagat brand, which in turn led Zagat's managing director of product management, Bernardo Hernandez, to mention current plans for Zagat in a recent interview.

He said "Our commitment is to keep things as they are today and once we combine operations, we'll know better what the future looks like." But he also tipped Google's hand a bit in terms of likely future offerings, saying that "When you add information you can trust to phone numbers and addresses as part of the Google search experience, it enables users to convert their intentions into actions."

Indeed, Google needs to bolster its local presence, as it's got significant competition on that front from Facebook and others who are putting the power of social networking to work in terms of local markets. Providing information about specific venues--be they restaurants, retailers or entertainment venues--that are only available in a certain area gives users more reason to stick with a particular information source. If it ever reaches the point where Google can tell users about Olive Garden, but Facebook can tell users about, say, Joe's Pasta of Newark, then Google stands to lose a lot of ground in at least one area. Worse, the more areas in which Google loses ground, the more ground it loses overall, a death by a thousand cuts. 

Google's acquisition of Frommer's, as well as its acquisition of Zagat, should go a long way toward giving Google that edge in local fare that will prove necessary to keeping Google aloft overall. It can't stop with Frommer's and Zagat, of course, as there will constantly be changes in the local market--Joe's Pasta of Newark may not be in business next week, or even next month--and Google will need to know that in as rapid a fashion as possible to keep its listings up to date, a difficult proposition with local offerings constantly changing. Still, that local edge will allow Google to stay in the game, and keep ground from being swallowed up by competitors who provide what they can--or will--not.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

Contributing TechZone360 Writer

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