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Microsoft Launches Bing TravelJune 4, 2009 By: George Dooley
Microsoft Corp. has added to the travel industry’s competitive mix with its launch of a new search destination for travelers: Bing Travel. The new tool will help consumers make travel decisions through a variety of innovative tools and features, Microsoft says. Bing Travel is part of Bing, Microsoft’s new Decision Engine and consumer brand announced in May. It is designed to help people overcome search overload and make faster, more informed decisions when searching online.
Bing Travel will combine many of the airfare and hotel tools from Microsoft’s 2008 acquisition of Farecast with rich news and editorial content from MSN Travel. Bing Travel is available for travelers today at www.bing.com/travel.
“Bing Travel has a simple goal: help people make smarter, more informed decisions regarding travel,” said Hugh Crean, general manager of Bing Travel. “Travelers face plenty of challenges — from airport security and luggage restrictions to finding their hotel in an unknown city or trying to speak a foreign language. Researching and booking travel should be simple and easy, and now Bing Travel is here to help.”
According to a recent survey by Bing Travel, 52 percent of potential travelers search three or more sites before booking their airfare. Forty-two percent of travelers spend between one and four weeks weighing their travel options, and 17 percent spend more than one month. Bing Travel aims to dramatically reduce the amount of time consumers spend searching for travel information by presenting comprehensive results in one place, and to help consumers make more informed decisions with tools such as Price Predictor and Rate Indicator.
Microsoft research shows that 45 percent of people use a search engine to select a flight or hotel. Bing Travel provides new, innovative travel answers within the Bing search experience, Microsoft says. People searching on Bing for hotels in a given city with a search such as “Vegas hotels” will get Bing Travel Instant Answers included directly in search results, featuring the Rate Indicator, which helps people choose the right hotel.
Some of Bing Travel’s key features include the following:
Price Predictor: Bing Travel uses Farecast technology to analyze more than 175 billion airfare observations and predict whether the price of a flight is going up or down. It offers people a recommendation of “Buy Now” or “Wait,” including a confidence level and expected price increase or decrease over the next seven days.
Rate Indicator: How does someone know if the rate for a hotel is a deal or not? The Rate Indicator analyzes historical rate data from thousands of hotels to determine whether the current price is a good deal, or not a deal at all. People can view a city map with details for each hotel, color coded by Rate Indicator data.
Travel Deals: Bing Travel features up-to-the-minute flight and hotel deals for nearly 40 cities around the world. When people choose their origin city, Bing Travel will show the best airfare and hotel deals it has and will even show them why particular flights are considered deals. For example, people will see that flights to certain destinations may be a record low, or more than $150 less than the average for a particular route. People can be sure that all Travel Deals are based strictly on science, not marketing.
Comparison Flight & Hotel Search: Bing Travel makes it fast and easy for consumers to get flight and hotel results and pricing for thousands of destinations worldwide. Finding the right flight or hotel is made simple with tools that allow people to refine results: nonstop flights only, specific airlines, hotels within a mile of an address, and many more. After selecting the hotel or flight, Bing Travel makes booking directly with suppliers or agencies seamless.
Fare Alerts: Most airfare price drops last less than 48 hours, so people need to be ready to jump when a fare falls. Fare Alerts will notify people if the fares for their trips drop, allowing them to catch lower fares.