Bing Travel Search

By dbaodbao (1255320756|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

Travel search engines like Travelocity and Kayak have been around for a while, and they make searching for cheap travel options significantly easier. You can save a considerable amount of time and searching effort by using one website to fulfill all of your travel needs - flights, hotels, and rental cars can be booked all at once. Microsoft Bing offers its own travel search site with a number of unique features.

Overview

The basic premise of Bing Travel Search is similar to some already existing sites - you enter the time frame, number of travelers, origin and destination, and they will take the work out of looking at a number of different airline/car rental/hotel websites for the cheapest price. However, there are a number of novel features that make Bing worth checking out.

Destinations/Blogs

If you have a vacation destination in mind, but are looking for hotel recommendations, Bing can help you out. Their new Destinations feature can suggest hotels based on the geographic region you are looking at. Bing also features a blog tab, which is an interesting new introduction on the travel search scene. However, this features seems to be have been added as somewhat of an afterthought. Most of the blogs seem to be written by Bing Travel employees or Bing members blogging about random topics that are mainly opinion-based. While this can be helpful if you are coincidentally looking for amazing coastal drives to take, the narrow scope severely limits its usefulness. It would be more helpful if Bing included a wider selection of blogs or allowed you to search by location or vacation activity. This could be a potentially useful tool that would allow travelers to communicate with each other in an open forum, but needs to be developed further. Additionally, the usefulness increases with the number of uses who are members of the Bing community, which seems to be pretty limited so far.

To Buy or Not to Buy? Farecast Technology


One of the most annoying things about looking for good prices about plane tickets is that you never know if you've found the best deal or not. Maybe the price has fallen $40 in the last week, but how are you supposed to have any clue if it's going to go back up or keep going down? Bing has taken some of the guesswork out of this dilemma with it's new Farecast technology. For each flight, Bing can predict whether the flight price will be going up, down or staying constant in the next seven days. Bing does this through simulation technology that is explored in more detail here. This is a great advantage that most other sites do not offer, although I'm not sure exactly how accurate the predictions are.

When to Travel

On the main page of the site, Bing can help you find last minute flight deals or plan your dates to find the cheapest combination of departure and arrival dates.

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If you were looking for a flight from Detroit to Raleigh sometime during October, Bing will show you the lowest fares by departure date - so it's easy for you to find the cheapest dates to go. Although Northwest/Delta's has a similar features that allows you see a grid showing different combinations of departure/arrival dates, this can be helpful if you are more flexible in your travel options. Bing also offers a feature called last minute deals, if you have the sudden urge to take a weekend getaway somewhere. Bing also features popular hotels in popular destination cities that are featuring deals.

Additional Tools

Bing also features links to a number of travel-related resources. For example, you can check the status of any flight (if you know the airline and flight number) without having to go to the individual site. There are also corresponding twitter and facebook pages so you can keep up with travel updates while browsing other sites.

Overall

While the bulk of Bing's Travel Search features search techniques that have already been employed by other search engines, the Farecast predictor gives it a significant advantage to other existing sites. Some aspects of Bing's Travel Search could use a little bit more development before they provide unique advantages, but overall, I would definitely use this in the future to meet my travel needs.

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