Microsoft’s Bing Travel fares well


5 Jun 2009

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The latest edition to Microsoft’s brand-new search engine Bing is Bing Travel, and unsurprisingly this is all about making good decisions online when planning your travel, from flights to hotels to car hire.

Following Microsoft’s acquisition of Farecast in 2008, Bing Travel incorporates the airfare and hotel tools developed by the firm.

This is quite like entering some keywords into a search engine, where you would expect that words such as ‘hotel’, ‘paris’ and ‘june’ might also display blogs, news stories and tweets containing this information.

Bing Travel emphasises Microsoft’s definition of the new search tool as a decision engine.

Almost like the search engine inside a booking site such as Aerlingus.com or Ryanair.com, Bing Travel prompts you to enter details of where you’re flying to and from, along with the travel dates and whether your flight is round-trip or one-way.

Your results will display all possible flights listed in order of fare price and beginning with the lowest. You can click straight through to book or check flight details, but there is also the option to compare with competing services such as Expedia or BookingBuddy.

You can adjust the search easily from a side panel to include or exclude certain airports, price ranges or airlines, plus set up an email alert to track changes in fares.

There is the option to search by flights, hotels, airfare deals or even by destination when you click through to an interactive map or photo gallery.

With the Price Predictor feature, users can more easily decide on whether to book now or wait and see if prices will drop, while the Rate Indicator will analyse if your hotel deal is value for money or not – a city map will be colour-coded for quick visual recognition.

“We know that a summer vacation isn’t an option for everyone this year, but for those with even a modest travel budget, it will go a long way this year,” said Joel Grus, Bing Travel’s so-called ‘fareologist’.

“We also encourage people to shift how they think about a summer vacation. Instead of flying to Mexico or Hawaii, consider taking advantage of incredibly low hotel rates in a city nearby. Anyone who is creative, flexible and a little savvy can find a trip to fit almost any budget.”

So Bing itself might not seem so different from Google or its predecessor Microsoft Live Search, but Bing Travel may well give your holiday this year bang for its buck.

By Marie Boran