Nov
26
2010

Microsoft Unveils Bing Travel

Microsoft Corp. today announced consumer availability of a new search destination for travelers — Bing Travel — which will help consumers make smart travel decisions through a variety of innovative tools and features. Bing Travel is part of Bing, Microsoft’s new Decision Engine and consumer brand announced on May 28, designed to help people overcome search overload and make faster, more informed decisions when searching online. Bing Travel combines 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 http://www.bing.com/travel. 

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.

“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.” 

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. Starting today, 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 0 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.

Original travel editorial content. The new Bing Travel combines editorial content from MSN Travel and Farecast to create an in-house team of experts who write daily articles, features, slide shows and blog posts to inspire and educate travelers on destinations, travel news, tips and tricks. Bing Travel also features exclusive editorial content from some of the world’s biggest names in travel, including Peter Greenberg and Pauline Frommer. Bing Travel also licenses content from leading publications such as Travel + Leisure, Budget Travel Inc. and The Wall Street Journal.

Bing Travel Summer Forecast Update
Bing Travel launches at a time when consumers can find significant deals on travel. The “Fareologists” at Bing Travel report that this summer — June through August — airfare is down 23 percent over this time last year, and similarly premium domestic U.S. hotel rates are down 16 percent on average, and as much as 33 percent in some cities. A recent survey by Bing Travel revealed that 55 percent of Americans plan to take a summer trip. Of those planning to skip a vacation this summer, 59 percent cited the recession or money woes as their chief reason.

“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 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.”

 

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