“This certainly means that Google will play an even larger role in travel selling, and not necessarily as an agent but the role of helping consumers find travel products and services,” he said. “Depending on the agency and how smart they are and what Google does, this could be good, or it could be a major threat to travel agencies.”

Many, including ITA Software clients such as Kayak and Orbitz, expressed major concerns about the deal when it was first announced in July 2010, especially with the potential for the world’s No.1 search engine to monopolize the online travel market. The DOJ decision, however, enacted strict regulations designed to prevent Google from breaking antitrust laws.

Harteveldt said it’s still too early to tell exactly what kind of an impact the deal will have. He did, however, stress that the acquisition could benefit Internet-savvy travel agents with the introduction of new advertising products, as well as tools that can help agents better understand consumer behavior and intention via search engine optimization and researching key words.

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