Research Insights Big tech regulation and travel

Big tech regulation and travel

October 2021
Phocuswright Research

Across the globe, there is growing recognition of the enormous power wielded by the world's technology giants. Calls to regulate Big Tech players including Alphabet (Google), Apple, Facebook and Amazon - as well as Chinese powerhouses like Alibaba and Tencent - have grown continually louder, especially after last week's hours-long outage of Facebook products, including global communication tool WhatsApp and Instagram. In response, governments have ramped up antitrust efforts and introduced new regulations, with the goal of protecting consumers and fostering competition. Phocuswright’s latest travel research report Confronting Goliath: Big Tech Regulation and Travel takes a deep dive into key issues impacting travel companies.

Phocuswright Chart: Big Tech Share of 2020 U.S. Net Ad Revenue
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Key Issues

Antitrust litigation, as well as some proposed legislation, targets issues particular to individual Big Tech companies. Core to antitrust efforts are assertions that the Big Tech players use their existing power to maintain and reinforce their positions. For Google, these issues include scrutiny of its search and advertising dominance, and alleged ways the company disadvantages potential competitors and business customers. For Facebook, antitrust efforts in the U.S. have scrutinized its acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram. In Europe, Facebook is under investigation and Amazon has been charged in relation to how their companies leverage data accessed via the operations of business customers to promote their own products.

In both antitrust investigations and proposed regulations, a few themes surface repeatedly. Among them:

  • Acquisitions
  • Data dominance and sharing
  • Self-preferencing/platform-branded products
  • Data portability/interoperability
  • Transparency/oversight
  • Content regulation

Impact on Travel

The current regulatory frenzy could impact the travel industry in several ways. If legislation significantly changes Big Tech company regulation (chiefly, Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple), the resulting reshaping of the digital landscape would impact all industries, including travel. Additionally, some proposals in the EU could potentially apply to travel platforms directly. Further, even if travel platforms are excluded from portions of pending regulation, general regulatory zest and shifting standards regarding data and platform behavior could have a ripple effect in travel.

To read the entire report, including a look at disruptions of the digital status quo, Big Tech travel ambitions and a look at the real gatekeepers, you must be a Phocuswright Open Access subscriber.

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