Travelocity-Expedia Deal Gives Travel Search Its Yahoo-Bing Moment

travelocity-expedia-logos Travelocity, one of the web's longstanding travel search engines and online travel agencies, is getting out of the travel search business. The company announced a "strategic marketing agreement" yesterday with longtime competitor Expedia, which calls for Expedia to begin powering the technology used on Travelocity.com. As the Wall Street Journal reports, that will include powering hotel and airfare searches, booking trips, and even customer service. It may remind you of the 2009 agreement when Yahoo essentially got out of the search business and turned its search results over to Bing. [...]


CheapAir.com Mobile Voice Search Not Very “Natural”

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 12.30.00 PM Several sites are touting a new voice search feature on the CheapAir.com app. The company says that it uses the iPhone's own speech recognition capability on the front end, but then does some semantic parsing on its side to deliver flight search results. I tried the app and found that its voice search fell quite short of my expectations. You can't speak "naturally" and get good results. For example, you can't say something like, "I need to go to Chicago on April 7 from San Francisco." If you form a query loosely or conversationally -- if you speak to it as you would an "assistant" [...]


Tracking Airline Flight Cancellations In Real Time

snow-airport A major winter storm is moving into the Northeast, New England, and parts of Canada. As you would expect, airlines are busy canceling flights by the hundreds. These cancellations will provide plenty of headaches around the entire U.S., Canada, and for travelers around the globe. Two resources that offer near real-time "scoreboards" with flight cancellation info and statistics follow. Both come from two well-known flight tracking services. FlightAware Live Airline Flight Cancellations Info & Statistics Find data about cancelled flights organized by airline, departure airport, an [...]


Priceline To Buy Travel Search Engine Kayak For $1.8 Billion

kayak-logo Priceline is a public company that owns several other travel brands, including Booking.com, Agoda.com, Cheaptickets.com, Rentalcars.com and a few other travel sites. You can now add leading travel search engine Kayak.com to that list. Priceline announced that it was buying the travel site for $1.8 billion (in cash and stock). Priceline and Booking.com are reasonably strong brands (especially Priceline, thanks to actor William Shatner) but Kayak adds a valuable new brand to the company's expanding portfolio. Priceline is not currently a member of the anti-Google lobbying group FairSearch [...]


Google Expands Flight Search Outside US To 500 Cities

google-flight-search-featured Google Flight Search is taking off to international destinations. Starting today users can search for flights to 500 airports outside the US. Google hasn't provided a comprehensive list of destinations, but most European and Asian cities I searched for were available. It's not clear how well flight search is doing or whether people are using it instead of some of the established travel sites and search engines. Right now the PC version of Flight Search is more challenging to use than some of its rivals -- Kayak for example. The mobile and iPad versions of Google Flight Search are simpler [...]


Groupon Buys Travel Search Site Uptake Mostly For Headcount

Uptake was an ambitious travel site that never quite broke through. It used social data and sentiment analysis to try and provide better travel discovery and decision support to its users. Originally called Kango, we wrote about the site in 2008 when it relaunched as Uptake. AllThingsD today reported that Uptake had been acquired by Groupon for something in the "teens of millions" (between $10 and $20). The company raised roughly $14 million from venture capital inventors, so it was basically a "break even" transaction. Apparently Groupon wanted the team and will integrate most of the ke [...]


Google Offers Flight Search To Go

Google has been improving its flight and hotel search results over the past few months, adding capabilities and polishing the overall experience. In accordance with that "iterative" approach Google announced today that flight search will now be available on mobile devices (browser only). To trigger the verticalized results, you need to specify that you want to see flights from location A to location B (US only right now). You then get outbound and return date fields, with lists of airlines and prices. If you click through to "more Google flight search results" there's a richer presentation [...]


Big Chains Launch “Hulu For Hotels”

Several major hotel chains have launched what might be described as "Hulu for hotels," a new travel search site called Roomkey. According to Tnooz, the consortium includes Choice Hotels, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott and Wyndham Hotels. Starwood, operator of Sheraton and W hotels, is not among them. Hotels have been struggling for years to get consumers to come directly to them rather than various OTAs, middlemen and aggregators to whom they pay affiliate booking and lead fees. This is not the first such hotels joint venture effort. There have been several initiatives over t [...]


Google Flight Search Expands, Now Showing More Routes

google-flight-search-expands You can imagine my surprise when I saw my local airport -- Pasco (PSC) -- showing up in Google's flight search feature. Don't get me wrong; I love this airport … from car to gate in less than 10 minutes just can't be beat. But that's the point: It's a pretty small airport and Google's flight search has been limited to much bigger cities since its launch in September. Not anymore. Google is remaining tightlipped about exact numbers, but a spokesperson did confirm for us via email that "since launch we've more than doubled the number of domestic (i.e., U.S.) routes available in the feat [...]


Bing’s Travel Search & Kayak Favoritism Angers No One, While Google’s Gets Headline Attention From WSJ

google-bing-travel-featured Bing's not-so-newest push into online travel hasn't begun to roil the industry, the latest example of where if Bing does something, no one cares, but if Google does it, it's time for a Wall Street Journal story examining the potential evilness of the move. In case you missed it, the Wall Street Journal has a story out about how Google's travel results -- added in September, rather than December as the story says, have upset (as you'd expect) rival travel search engines such as Kayak, Expedia and Orbitz. Bing: Pushing Travel Search Against Google Since 2009 You have to get midway down int [...]


The Right Stuff: Heavy Duty Real-Time Airline Flight Tracking Tools

plane_finder_ar_sky_blue Seemingly every day, more real-time or near real-time data becomes accessible on the internet. Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing about many different types of real-time resources, but today, I'll be focusing on real-time flight data—virtually addicting tools for frequent flyers and aviation geeks alike. For example, two weeks ago, Wolfram|Alpha launched a new real-time flight tracking feature that displays information about flights flying close to your own location. I'm a major Wolfram|Alpha user and supporter. However, since Wolfram is using GeoIP, which approximates location r [...]


Google Makes Flight Search Results Better Looking, More Useful

In September Google did the first part of its integration with ITA, showing flight schedule information in search results and launching a separate flight search "portal" of sorts (Google.com/flights). Here's what it looked like in Google.com results: The display could be expanded to reveal flight schedule information. However that wasn't very pretty or useful, especially compared with other travel verticals such as Kayak or Orbitz. Today however Google is rolling out an improved display for supported cities that includes schedules and price information. It brings some of the "por [...]


Wolfram Alpha Offers New Twist On Flight Search: Literal Answers To What Planes Are Overhead

wolfram-alpha-flight-featured You may not love this as much as I do, but that's okay. Wolfram Alpha has just launched what I'd have to put on any year-end list of the coolest search technologies of 2011: a tool that tells you, literally, what flights are in the sky above you. To access this literal, real-time flight search, just type "flights overhead" into the Wolfram Alpha search box, and voilá! If you're using a desktop computer, Wolfram Alpha does its best to figure out your location automatically and -- if there are flights in the sky above you -- lists the commercial flights in the area. You'll also see the plane [...]


Google Travel Search Takes Flight With First ITA Travel Product

google-ita-featured Google has made what amounts to a promising downpayment on more ambitious travel search tools with its new Flight Search, debuting today. Launching initially for a select group of US cities Google users will have access to an expanded range of airline search options and a much more verticalized experience than has been available in the past on Google. This is the first product to emerge from Google's controversial acquisition of travel software company ITA, which closed in April and included concessions and guarantees to existing ITA customers such as Kayak, Microsoft, Orbitz, Hotwire and [...]


Oyster.com Adds Hotel Search By Image Feature

Today, Oyster.com, a hotel review site and booking engine rolled out "Oyster Shots", a new search by hotel photos feature, following a similar trend of expanded image search capabilities by Google. All images are editorially tagged and categorized, and include underlying geocoded data signals, such as GPS camera data. In the challenging travel vertical, Oyster is hoping to add a fresh layer of editorial relevance, even if it means a slow, difficult process to appropriately tag (manually) and reference all images within its target markets. Eytan Seidman, co-founder of Oyster, and former B [...]


Bing Travel & Kayak Announce Partnership

In a post on the Bing blog made earlier today, Bing Travel and Kayak have joined forces, as the two travel search engines announced a formal partnership to provide searchers with more comprehensive results. In the next few weeks (no specific timeline has been shared yet), Kayak will begin serving flight search results to Bing to give customers additional results for flights in the "U.S. from multiple cities, airports and airlines, giving customers access to a larger set of flight itineraries." The Kayak flight search data will supplement existing Bing Travel tools including Price Predict [...]


Kayak Welcomes Google As Travel Search Competitor, With ITA Acquisition Still Under DOJ Review

In a bit of a surprising interview on Bloomberg News, Kayak.com's co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Paul English boldly stated that the travel search engine doesn't fear Google's entrance into the travel search market via the proposed acquisition of ITA Software. Kayak is officially listed as a member of the FairSearch Organization, but Google claims English is stating the opposite of what the group has been using as a foundational argument to the DOJ in its opposition to the acquisition. Though English mentioned that they are glad DOJ is looking closely at the terms of the acquisiti [...]


A New Search Engine for Hotel Rooms: Room 77 Launches

Like "seat guru for hotel rooms," was my immediate thought; Room 77 is a search engine for hotel rooms. The site is creating and indexing data on hotels in the US and UK (and eventually around the world) that qualify with three stars and above. There's also an iPhone app launching simultaneously today. There are 16 destinations with coverage at launch. Those include Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Honolulu, Las Vegas, London, Los Angeles, Maui, Miami, New York, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C. By working with the hotel chains and independent contra [...]


Review Sites’ Rancor Rises With Prominence of Google Place Pages

Friends or enemies? Partners or competitors? Google's relationship with review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp is as complicated as ever, and the disputes are likely to increase as the search giant pursues mobile and local ambitions that center around its controversial Place pages. The rancor stems from the way Google aggregates content from various review sites onto its Place pages, showing snippets of reviews posted by users of other sites. While Google undoubtedly drives traffic to the review sites, the aggregation tacitly encourages users to think there's no need to go anywhere else. Cr [...]


Off The Radar: Why Airlines On Travel Search Engines Are Going Missing

Looking for the best airfares on Expedia or Orbitz? You won’t find them from American Airlines. Meanwhile, Delta fares are gone from other online travel search engines like CheapOAir.com and Vegas.com. A brewing battle between airlines and fare comparison services is to blame. Last week, the ongoing saga between the airlines and popular OTA sites and GDS platforms (Orbitz, Sabre) reached a tipping point, when American Airlines pulled its fares from Orbitz.com, refusing to pay the fees demanded by the travel search giant for listing its fares. Where Airfares Have Gone & Why Travel [...]


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