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Seto and 400 decision-makers filed a complaint against Google in front of the European Commission

René-Marc Chikli, President of Seto shares his reasons


On Thursday, May 15, 400 publishers, including Seto (the union of tour operating companies- translator’s note), Lagardère Active, CCM Benchmark, filed a complaint against Google through the European Commission. At a conference at the Cité Internationale of Paris, the members gathered under the name of "Open Internet Project" to raise the issue of their dependence on the search engine, and their concern in terms of "internet neutrality." This key principle guarantees equal access opportunity of the Internet history from one user to another.
René-Marc Chikli, president of Ceto, shares his opinion on the dominant position of Google and explains the reasons that led them to join together to get Europe involved.



René-Marc Chikli : "Our goal is not to demolish Google but demand respect for equal access to competition. We must force Google to change its policy on Adwords, focus on strengthening links rather than setting constraints on other advertisers”- Photo EC
René-Marc Chikli : "Our goal is not to demolish Google but demand respect for equal access to competition. We must force Google to change its policy on Adwords, focus on strengthening links rather than setting constraints on other advertisers”- Photo EC
i -tourisme - Why is there such an insurgency against Google?

René-Marc Chikli: "For three years, there has not been a single forum that did not mention Google and ask about it. We witnessed the arrival of Google Flight, Google Finder, Zagat, Room77. We keep seeing modules multiplying.

It is not your average competitor. Let’s not be reactionary, we support free trade. Because competition is stimulating."

i -tourisme - So you are not anti-Google?

RMC: "This debate is tricky because in terms of technological innovation, Google is fabulous. So we had to ask ourselves on what to react to.

Our goal is not to demolish Google but demand respect for free competition. We need to pressure Google to change its policy with Adwords and focus on establishing higher quality links.

It is necessary that those who pay for search engine optimization do not receive a special treatment compared to natural SEO.

I think we hit the heart of the problem. We are not conducting an unfounded anti-Google campaign. We just want to regain the place that we deserve.

Internet is a great opening but operators should not take over the Internet. The objective is for Google to be open to us.

Microsoft had to do it as it was repeatedly condemned by the European Commission (Editor's note: the Redmond company was fined 561 million euros in 2013 for failing to leave enough room for competitors to its Internet browser in Windows 7).”

"The risk of losing key players"

i -tourisme - What are the stakes of your action within the Open Internet Project?

RMC: "The situation is complicated because all new Google services show up well positioned in the search engine."

i- tourism : But if this benefits the consumer, then why not?

RMC: "This is just the opposite because the prices of sites displayed at top of the page are more expensive by 25% on average because they are the paying positions.

The others, coming from natural SEO go down a notch on the results page, or can be found on the second page. As a result, prices that appear on the second page without paid search optimization are the cheapest.

There is therefore a risk of losing key players who exist within Google and are Google clients.

Another critical point: the exploitation of data and tastes of users. Voyageur du Monde also took Google to trial for the exploitation of its brand.

We can’t help but wonder: how will we be treated? Google France holds 90% of the market share.

Everyone goes on the Internet, it is no longer a question of age limit or territorial boundary. Only 20% of the French travel abroad, so this can really have an influence on the business."

i -tourisme - What message do you want to send out?

RMC: "This is the profession raising the alarm. The challenge is trying to exist on the Internet. One of the known players in tourism declared not being concerned. But if 40% of its customers have a Gmail address, they will be in the hands of Google without knowing it. This is a war machine.

France is also concerned. I was contacted by people from financial sector. The French market can be marginalized on Google. It can control who owns the information, content, or holds the business.

If someone types "Travel Europe" Google could put forward less time in France for instance, such as two days in France, three days Spain, Italy in four days... It would have an influence on the length of stay and therefore on revenue.

So Europe must react, to defend itself. The Chinese, for instance have resisted Google. On top of that, the search engine pays very little taxes in France.”

i -tourisme - How big is this project getting?

RMC: "The biggest players of the Internet have joined us.

A little story becomes a great story. Yesterday at the conference, Arnaud Montebourg was excellent; he repeated that we must fight in Brussels so that Google does not become "an unavoidable obstacle.”

This project is getting big, all the major players in the Internet are involved.

For the travel sector, the Union of Enterprises of Tour Operating (Seto) is one of the signatories of the OIP. We were at the origin of the project for months, along with the website CEO of “Comment ça marche? (“How does it work ?") and the director of Guide.com.

Olivier Kervella, CEO of Travel NG group was designated as the official representative of the Union within the project. Jean -François Rial, CEO of Voyageurs du Monde, is also involved. We have a strong team.

We were joined even by Germans and American players."

Written by Mathilde Khlat translated by Joséphine Foucher the 20/05/2014
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