Travel search takes off as airlines go into tailspin

As air traffic is dragged down by high fuel costs and airline executives reach for sickness bags, travel-search traffic is picking up online — and that has meant business taking off for New England companies whose Internet search technologies support travel-related websites.

With cash-strapped consumers busy looking for deals, the boost in online travel-search has meant stronger revenue and acquisition activity by local companies. For example, earlier this week, Boston-based Smarter Travel Media LLC, which operates and, acquired for an undisclosed amount New York-based LLC.

How high are the travel sites soaring? Online travel search engine Kayak Inc., with operations in Concord and Norwalk, Conn., expects to generate revenue of $140 million this year compared with $47 million in 2007, co-founder and CTO Paul English said.

In 2005, the year in which Kayak launched its meta search website that aggregates the results of other sites, the company posted $3 million in revenue, he said.