BizFeed: Philly’s Tourism Boom; Google’s “Buy” Button

Plus, the slow death of US Airways.

1. Philly’s Tourism Boom

The News: Summer is prime time to see out-of-towners riding the duck boats, running the Rocky steps, and checking out all the weird stuff in the Mutter Museum. And it all means dollar signs for Philadelphia. Just check out these 2014 tourism numbers recently released by Visit Philadelphia: 39.7 million day and overnight visitors created an economic impact of $10.4 billion, supporting 92,000 full-time jobs and generating $655 million in state and local taxes. Nice.

Why it Matters: The days of Philly being simply a destination for history buffs or business travelers are long gone. In fact, the Visit Philly study claims that leisure tourism increased 90 percent since 1997 — surely aided by the city’s increase in hotel rooms and commitment to marketing itself as a destination. In fact, the study says that in 2014, there were 948,000 Center City hotel room stays from leisure visitors — up 273 percent from 1997.

2. US Airways to Disappear by October

The News: A major brand with strong local ties will soon be history. After merging with American Airlines in 2013, US Airways will cease to exist by October, according to American Airlines CFO Derek Kerr, who was quoted in Forbes.

“US Airways will basically go away in the October timeframe: the signs will come down.”

Why it Matters: For years, Philadelphia was a hub for US Airways. At the time of the American merger, it had 450 flights per day out of Philadelphia. While it sure looks like American is committed to making Philadelphia a hub of its own, it’s only mandated to do so for three years after the merger. American has already absorbed US Air’s rewards bonus points and local employees. The company has been steadfast in claiming that prices will remain stable after the merger, but less competition tends to drive up costs as time goes by. Will American be as good for Philadelphia as US Air once was? We’ll have to wait and see.

3. Get Ready for Google “Buy” Buttons

The News: Can Google hang with Amazon and eBay? We’re about to find out. The search giant is set to launch a new “buy” button on its search page in the coming weeks, according to the Wall Street Journal. Citing “people familiar with the launch,” the WSJ explains how the system works:

If shoppers click on the buy buttons, they will be taken to another Google product page to complete the purchase, the people explained. On that page, they will be able to pick sizes and colors and shipping options, as well as complete the purchase, one of the people said.

The products will still be provided and sold by retailers, rather than by Google. Retailers including Macy’s Inc. are in talks with Google about taking part in the launch, the people added. A Macy’s spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Why it Matters: Search-engine optimization is already crucial for businesses — now it could become essential for online retailers. If a “buy” button is deployed, getting to the top of Google’s front page has even more value. But it could also weaken Google’s core product of search results. With a “buy” button attached, consumers could become leery that Google is playing favorites concerning which websites emerge at the top of its search results.

Plus, retailers may feel cut out of the process. The WSJ explains:

Some retailers said they worry the move will turn Google from a valuable source of traffic into a marketplace where purchases happen on Google’s own websites. The retailers, who wouldn’t voice their concerns publicly, fear such a move will turn them into back-end order takers, weakening their relationships with shoppers.

Retailers currently send Google data feeds on the products they are selling online, and then pay Google when shoppers click through to their websites.