How Alphabet Inc (GOOGL) Will Impact the Travel Industry; Key Takeaways from RBC’s Conference Call

The Google Flights tool has stood in the shadow of the more well-known online travel leaders, however, some on Wall Street think the new and updated features could help Flights surpass them all.

On Friday, RBC Capital hosted a conference call with Research Director Luke Bujarski, Senior Research Analyst Jared Wein, and Skift Executive Editor Dennis Schaal to discuss Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) impact on the travel industry.

According to Skift, Google Flights is gaining momentum and continues to see traction. Of note, Skift believes Google Flights is being particularly aggressive in the U.S. and appears to be gaining share from competitors. To put some context around this, according to Google Trends data, the term “Google Flights” in the U.S. rose 22-pts in January, compared with a 12-pt increase for “Kayak,” “Skyscanner” and “Momondo” combined. On the other hand, Google Hotel Ads, which is essentially Google’s metasearch platform, is underperforming relative to Google Flights.

“Skift estimates Google owns up to 90% of the digital travel advertising market, translating into ~$12B of revenue in 2016 with the major OTA’s accounting for roughly half of that revenue. Among the OTA’s, Priceline pays Google the most, which Skift’s estimates is ~50% more than Expedia and >5x as much a TripAdvisor. Overall, Skift expects digital travel ad spend to grow 20% annually and believes the OTA’s will continue to hold the same share. That said, the OTA’s are likely to continue experimenting with other channels but these remain largely experimental and aspirational,” the RBC team noted.

RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney currently rates GOOGL at Buy, with a price target of $1025, which represents a potential upside of 23% from where the stock is currently trading.

According to, which measures analysts’ and bloggers’ success rate based on how their calls perform, analyst Mark Mahaney has a yearly average return of 21.4% and a 72% success rate. Mahaney has a 15.4% average return when recommending GOOGL, and is ranked #4 out of 4428 analysts.

Out of the 29 analysts polled in the past 12 months, 27 rate Alphabet stock a Buy, 1 rates the stock a Hold and 1 recommends to Sell. With a return potential of nearly 18%, the stock’s consensus target price stands at $989.14.


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