Microsoft Joins FairSearch Group Opposing Google-ITA Acquisition

Microsoft has long and openly been involved in opposing some of Google's high-profile deals and acquisitions. It helped scuttle the proposed Google-Yahoo search deal that paved the way for its own deal with Yahoo. It unsuccessfully opposed the DoubleClick and AdMob acquisitions. It also owns Ciao, one of the complainants that helped launch the recent formal European anti-trust investigation against Google. It's no surprise then that Microsoft has joined FairSearch.org, a coalition of online travel companies opposing Google's estimated $700 million deal for travel software provider ITA. The [...]


Senator Calls On DOJ To Limit Google’s ITA Purchase

Citing a litany of concerns over competition, airfare, and technology, a US Senator is calling on the Justice Department to put conditions on Google's purchase of travel software company ITA. In a letter to the DOJ on Wednesday, Senator Herb Kohl outlined a number of concerns over Google's purchase of ITA -- the independent software provider that powers many of the top online travel web sites, from individual airline sites to online travel services (Expedia, Orbitz) and aggregators (Kayak, Bing Travel): "Participants in the on-line travel industry are concerned that Google could refuse t [...]


OTA Coalition Forms, Calls Google+ITA Deal A Threat To Consumers And Competition

Last week, it was announced that FairSearch.org was formed by a group of travel and technology businesses, including  Expedia Inc. ( Expedia.com, Hotwire , TripAdvisor),  Farelogix,  KAYAK.com and  SideStep; and Sabre Holdings, owners of Travelocity to lobby against Google's acquisition of ITA software (for $700 million) which provides data to a number of top travel websites, including Bing Travel (Farecast). Speculation worried the travel industry for months leading up to the formal announcement on July 1, 2010, and ever since then, Google's Acquisition of ITA has been highly scrutini [...]


For Travel Planning, Search Engines May Not Be Your Best Destination

It’s that time of year when many of us turn to the internet for information, advice and maps to help plan a getaway for some rest and relaxation. Although search engines may be an obvious place to start your quest, they often aren’t your best bet for useful information, helpful advice or savvy planning tips. Here’s why—along with an in-depth look at more useful alternatives.


The Thirteen Best Online Travel Guides

Virtually all of the famous print travel guides have online counterparts. Most are just as packed with information, photos and maps as their print versions. Most also have planning tools, community, deals and other online-specific features. Surprisingly, for sites that offer information about travel and moving around the world, many don't have mobile versions of their websites, though some do have apps or iBook versions. If you've ever browsed the print versions of many of these travel guides, you know that they're largely similar, and the one that works best for you is largely a matter of [...]


Google Takes On Travel Sites, Courts Regulatory Action With ITA Acquisition

Google has signed an agreement to acquire travel reservations software company ITA. The purchase price is reportedly about $700 million. We speculated about this and the likely travel industry and potential regulatory fallout earlier this week. Google put up a site to explain and promote the deal. Indeed, Google knows it's girding for a fight and is about to do a conference call with CEO Eric Schmidt, ITA's CEO and Marissa Mayer. In addition Google PR just issued the following statement: I wanted to let you know that Google has just announced that we have signed an agreement to acquire I [...]


Kayak.com Releases Travel Search Data & Travel Index Tool

Somewhat quietly, last week Kayak posted a new feature that opens up access to their search data using Kayak Trends. A key feature of Kayak Trend data is the KAYAK Travel Index™, an a statistical model that provides a measure of travel demand from analysis of searches on KAYAK sites, and aligns that with average combined prices people select for hotel and flights. In Kayak Trends, you can get a snapshot of most popular destinations and search demand for them by day, week, month or year, as well as see a shift in seasonal trends by looking at the biggest upward and downward trends at a gla [...]


What, Where, When: Travel & Local Search Combine @Goby.com

Coming out of (private) and into public Beta today is a new hybrid travel and local search engine, Goby.com (GO-be), a new entrant into the foray of "deep web" search technology, led by a founding team with web and search experience from Endeca (CEO Mark Watkins), Lycos (Jim Fell) and Reprise Media (CTO Vince Russo), MIT (professor Michael Stonebraker, co-founder) as well as travel distribution experience with John Walsh (World Travel Holdings.) The start-up received its funding from Flybridge Capital and Kepha Partners. Using a 3-box format for search queries, Goby's intention is to help g [...]


Five More Search Tools You May Not Know … But Should

Have you ever needed to see the search results for another city -- maybe because you want to see what PPC ads are shown somewhere else? Have you ever needed to see search results from a different country, or in a different language? Maybe you're into real time search, and you'd love a place to find the latest photos and videos being shared on Twitter. Or perhaps you're planning a vacation abroad, but you're not sure when is the best time to visit Europe. It's time again for another roundup of the latest and greatest search tools and search engines, and in this article, I'll share five such [...]


Kayak Says Bing Isn’t Playing Air Fair, Hakia Sees Near Mirror Image

Kayak travel search launched a formal attack on Microsoft's Bing Travel yesterday in an article that appeared on Wired, Kayak to Bing: Stop Copying Us!. Apparently, Kayak's executives are more than a little steamed by the eerily similar look and feel, and even went so far as to put Microsoft on legal notice (presumably a cease & desist) to knock it off. Wired implies that Kayak is concerned about the similarities causing brand confusion with its users, and even noted an "uncomfortable" comparison in their own review of Bing, and points out that others have noticed as well. You can see f [...]


Former Live Search Director Launches Oyster.com, Hotel Review Site

In February 2008, when Vanessa Fox wrote that Eytan Seidman, Program Management Director over core relevance at Microsoft Live Search (now Bing.com) was leaving Microsoft (and Seattle) for a start-up, she may not have known that he was jumping into murky waters of travel search. Today, Eytan's start-up site was unveiled - Oyster.com, a site that generates professional, verified hotel reviews. Shortly after that announcement, Oyster Hotel Reviews closed a Series A with Bain Capital and Accelerator Ventures (via TechCrunch) worth $6.4 million, to launch a start-up with his brother (Elie Seidm [...]


Yahoo Closes The Cabin Door On FareChase

FareChase, Yahoo's discount travel search engine, is shutting its doors today. An alert on the FareChase web site indicates that today is the service's final day, and encourages users to instead use Yahoo Travel. In her first conference call back in January, new CEO Carol Bartz said "everything's open for examination" when it comes to streamlining operations and improving the bottom line. Yahoo gave this statement to Search Engine Land: "After careful consideration, Yahoo! is discontinuing FareChase, a travel metasearch engine, effective March 25, 2009. After this date, users will no [...]


Travel Search Goes Green

With a couple of Stanford graduates as founders, a new entrant to the online travel space officially launched its beta site today, WholeTravel.com. Following a small but growing trend in the travel search space, Whole Travel uses what they call "Blue Sky Search", or the ability for searchers to use open-ended experiential queries, rather than inputting specific location data, airport codes or exact dates for travel. Searchers on WholeTravel.com are encouraged to type in eco-friendly activities (mountain trekking, wildlife tours, canoeing) or broad destination ideas such as "rainforest" o [...]


Travel Search Engine Kayak Brings Search And Display Together With New Ad Units

Yesterday travel search engine Kayak announced that it had built a display ad platform to leverage search queries and serve more relevant graphical ads across its network. These display units will potentially replace the text ads currently shown on search results and other pages on Kayak.com and its affiliate sites. Reportedly, however, consumers can turn them off if they like. According to the release: Similar to the text ads that are already available through the Kayak Publishing Network (KPN), the new display ad system helps travel marketers target their ads based on search criteria in [...]


Travel Muse Brings “Discovery” To Travel Search

The Travel category online is an example of how the Internet has made our lives both easier and more complicated. It very clearly exemplifies "the paradox of choice." Indeed, there are hundreds of travel sites that provide booking services and travel content of one sort or another. You're "empowered" with information but also potentially overwhelmed by it. Given this, it would seem we don't need any more travel sites. TravelMuse, which has just launched, makes the argument that there's still room for more "inspiration" in travel search. The company sees itself like a "magazine," with content [...]


Travel Appears To Be Next Up For Google

BusinessWeek writes about Google's potential plans to enter the travel arena with a specialized offering. That offering, assuming it appears, would likely include a heavy dose of video. There would also likely be a heavy helping of Maps. Interestingly, Google is pushing Maps and MyMaps today as a travel/trip planning tool. Google could create a pretty interesting travel product using some combination of YouTube/video and Maps, including StreetView, with social elements (e.g., search UGC/MyMaps). Google used to show a one box that would expedite a search on the top branded travel destinations [...]


Travel Search Engine Kango Relaunches As UpTake

Does the world need more travel sites and search engines? UpTake (formerly Kango) thinks so. Travel is one of the most developed and "mature" verticals online. It's also one of the most competitive segments. However, there's still considerable frustration in doing online travel planning notwithstanding the plethora of tools and sites out there -- or perhaps precisely because there are so many. Co-founded by Yen Lee, who was GM of Yahoo Travel, UpTake describes itself as a "travel search and discovery site." It's aggregating consumer reviews and listings information from many travel sites to [...]


Microsoft Buys Travel Search Site Farecast

Travel search site Farecast was rumored to be a takeover target recently and the CEO has confirmed that the site has indeed been acquired by Microsoft. TechCrunch, citing John Cook at the Seattle PI, says the deal was worth something in the $100-$115 million range. Microsoft has a long history in travel, having started Expedia in the mid-1990s (it was sold to IAC's predecessor USANetworks in 1999). Farecast's claim to differentiation was that it could predict whether air fares or hotel prices were going up or down to help travelers know when to buy. The site has been around for about two yea [...]


InsideTrip Seeks To Add More Depth And Dimension To Travel Search

Entering the already competitive and crowded market for travel search, InsideTrip is betting it's bringing enough value to the market to gain consumer awareness and usage. The site offers a metasearch engine (like Kayak or Farechase) for airfares. But it also has compiled public data on a range of other factors such as aircraft type and age, security wait time, routing quality, lost bags rank, and other criteria. These create a proprietary "overall trip quality" score. The "pushback" or argument against the site is that people only care about price—that air travel is a commodity. How [...]


Yahoo Moves Metasearch Engine FareChase To Travel Homepage

TechCrunch noticed that Yahoo has moved the FareChase metasearch engine to the homepage of Yahoo Travel. TechCrunch attributes this move to the recent nearly $200 million acquistion of SideStep by competitor Kayak. I've always thought that FareChase was a very strong property that wasn't being fully leveraged by Yahoo. Yahoo acquired FareChase in 2004. Yahoo is also showing FareChase in response to selected travel queries. For example, here's the result for "flights to London": Online travel-related bookings are worth more than $100 billion annually in the US. Here's some additional analy [...]


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