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How Did we Allow This to Happen? Viator’s Founder Rod Cuthbert on the Rise of Google
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Monday, 20th May 2024
 

As Google continues to roll out AI-powered search features, which will undoubtedly increase its dominance in travel, Rod Cuthbert, the founder of Viator and generally acknowledged as the 'Godfather of tours and activities', got quite indignant.

“How did we – the OTAs – allow this to happen?” he asked during his one-on-one interview, which followed right after a presentation by Yu Ukai, product manager at Google Travel, responsible for the travel search experience on Google Search and Google Maps, leveraging Google’s AI and other technologies.

Said Cuthbert, “We were the ones who were out there with the risk capital doing the development, figuring out how to do this. Everybody else followed along, right? We spent absolute fortunes with Google. We spent billions and billions of dollars. And now they come along and they say, you know what? We don’t really need you. Man, that drives me crazy. And it also says to me, don’t invest in anything because Google will probably take that. Take it direct.”

Cuthbert got indigant during his session at WiT Japan & North Asia in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Rod Cuthbert “We spent absolute fortunes with Google. We spent billions and billions of billions of dollars. And now they come along and they say, you know what? We don’t really need you.”

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