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It’s hard to think of an industry that hasn’t been impacted, if not entirely turned on its head, as a result of the Internet. Vint Cerf is probably one of the best people to thank or blame for kick-starting the whole process. Widely recognized as one of “the fathers of the Internet,” he is also acknowledged as a futurist focused on such diverse areas of study as artificial intelligence, environmentalism and the the transformation of the television industry and its delivery model.
As Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google since 2005, Cerf travels the world over. So at Flip.to we were excited to get his perspective on how travel is being affected by new technologies, from user-generated recommendations to Google+ to space travel.
You’re a sought after speaker on any number of really interesting topics, which has led you to becoming a prolific traveler. What’s the biggest downside and your favorite upside to that? And what’s your favorite source for tips in a city you’re less than familiar (other than Google, of course)?
Biggest downside is that heavy commercial travel is potentially very inefficient – there is a lot of time spent getting through airports and although some people can work effectively on long flights, I find that it is sometimes hard to get as much done as I would like because of time zone changes that compel you to sleep to adjust. The biggest upside is face to face meetings that are often far more effective than teleconferencing, videoconferencing or email. Of course, there is also the thrill of discovering a new city or a new restaurant and chef!!
As for tips, I actually rely a lot on my friends, many of whom travel as much as I do. Some cities have very good web sites. I have also found that our travel agency is helpful as are locals I might be visiting.
Social media has proven that search results ranked by domain-authority and link popularity alone does not trump people-authority and user-generated recommendations. When Google’s Twitter deal expired recently, real-time results disappeared from Google SERPs. This lessened website traffic for many travel brands online. How do you see Google+ filling that void and providing an even better service/experience for hotels and airline websites going forward?
Google+ has the property that it allows users to create “circles” of friends, colleagues and contacts that revolve around specific topics or interests. The “+1″ mechanism should allow for more personal feedback on products, brands and services that can be factored into rankings. Searching while logged into Google allows users to take even more advantage of such nuanced responses.
Google’s recent acquisition of ITA Software, the meta-search technology that drives online travel agents (OTAs) has caused concern that Google search results will direct travel bookings to Google’s preferred vendors, versus flight aggregators such as Expedia or Travelocity. Wouldn’t such a move lessen competition, resulting in reduced choice for consumers and less innovation from providers?
As far as I am aware, Google’s ranking mechanisms are not intended to bias the results in the way your question suggests.
Flip.to is a social media marketing service that converts hotel and airline consumers into engaged advocates. It does so, at time of booking – through a process call “magnetic marketing” – the time when the bond between the customer and the brand is the greatest. What prompts you to recommend a travel brand or destination to your friends and associates?
Typically, my endorsement is a consequence of a good experience with the service provider. Often this has to await an actual stay, dining experience, use of transportation, etc. I am especially enthusiastic when repeated experiences are positive.
Known around the world as “Father of the Internet,” what’s the most interesting anecdote or story that comes to mind from travelers you meet for the first time that acknowledge your title?
I’m just one of the fathers of the Internet but the most common question I get is: “did you have any idea when you were designing this system what it would become?” Of course, the honest answer is “no, but we knew this was a pretty powerful technology!”
What’s your take on the end of NASA’s shuttle program, seemingly without any future exploration plans in place? Are private companies the future of space innovation?
I am a big fan of robotic space exploration on the grounds that it has produced the largest quantity of scientific data per dollar spent. I have sometimes thought that the space exploration problem should have budget firewalls between manned and robotic exploration for that reason. I am a science fiction fan and I like the idea that someday we will “move off planet” but in the next 50 years, I think we would benefit from vigorous robotic exploration so as to have a clearer sense of what we are up against, trying to maintain astronaut lives in long-term interplanetary missions.
Any plans to book a seat on a commercial space flight in the coming years?