Bing Launches New "Price Predictors" Travel Feature
Microsoft’s Bing has launched a way to search among billions of airfares much faster.
A new feature called “Price Predictor” auto-suggests flights and prices right from the search box, according to a Bing blog post today.
As soon as you start typing “Seattle to JFK,” a menu drops down, telling you the best price, and if you should buy now because prices are going up, or if you can hold off for a better fare.
The menu drops down before you ever hit the enter key. The results are for the best flight price over the next 90 days.
Other key words that will trigger the menu include: “Fly to Chicago,” or even “Chicago Flights.” Bing will immediately recognize where you are and instantaneously display the “Price Predictor” based on your location.
To cull this price information, Bing uses ITA Software’s data.
Google is currently in the process of trying to acquire ITA for $700 million, a process that is now being reviewed by the Justice Department for its antitrust ramifications.
ITA Software maintains a database of flight information, including fare comparisons and flight schedules for many major U.S. airlines, including American and United Airlines. Companies such as Microsoft and Kayak.com, which use the data, are opposing the merger because they claim it will stifle competition.
Others, such as Expedia.com, are also opposed to the deal even though they do not rely on data from ITA. The American Antitrust Institute also recently spoke out against it, calling it a “unregulatable monopoly.”
There are two main issues. First, the companies that do rely on the data are concerned Google will not honor its contracts over the long-term, and second, they are afraid Google might become a competitor, even though it promises not to get into the business of selling tickets.
For now, Google is not even licensing data from ITA.
When conducting a similar search of “Seattle to JFK” on Google, there’s no helpful information in the drop down menu. When you hit enter, there’s a widget that lets you choose dates for your travel and where you want results from, such as Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline, Kayak and others.
But unlike Bing, there are no instant results on the best prices anywhere.
In a FAQ on Google’s site about the merger, it writes: “By combining ITA Software’s expertise with Google’s technology, we will be able to build new flight search tools for users that will make it easier for them to search for flights, compare flight options and prices, and get them quickly to sites where they can buy their tickets.”