Travel Search Sites Kayak And SideStep To Merge In Nearly $200 Million Deal

TechCrunch reported last night that travel meta-search site Kayak had closed a whopping $196 million round and then turned around and bought competitor SideStep for almost that same amount. The press release officially describes the transaction as a merger and both brands will apparently be preserved, but Kayak is clearly the dominant party and acquirer. Confirmation of that comes in a curious quote from Kayak CTO Paul English in the release, "As a native Bostonian, I am also personally gratified to finally see an East Coast technology firm purchasing a West Coast counterpart." Interestingly [...]


Need Flight Status? Google Now Provides Tracking

The Google Blog announced they have improved how they return flight status information in search results. Instead of just providing a link to get flight times, you get that information directly in the OneBox area at Google, without requiring a click to see it. Here is a screen capture of the Google results for a search on aa 123 before Google added schedule information to the result: Here are Google's new results: Notice how Google now tells you if your flight is on time or delayed, as well as the estimated departure and arrival times. Danny did a huge compare and contrast of how sea [...]


Farecast Offers Hotel Search

In the context of a larger discussion of how data mining is being used by several Internet sites, Gary Price posts about the introduction of hotel search on the Farecast site. Farecast's core service has sought to save consumers money by using historical information and other data to determine whether airfares are rising or falling and whether, accordingly, it's the right time to buy a plane ticket. Here's an example search for airfares from San Francisco to New York's JFK airport. The airfare predictions service was backed up by price guarantees to instill greater consumer trust, but it rem [...]


Yahoo Travel Adds Personalization, New Maps

Yahoo Travel has redesigned and added a range of features, including personalization and new mapping tools to the site. It's also seeking to more deeply integrate travel properties FareChase (its fares and rates "meta search" engine) and Trip Planner (its user-generated content site) into Travel. Flickr is also well represented throughout the redesign. I'm not going to be able to capture every nuance or aspect of the upgrade and all the new features, but I'll highlight the main ones. The new home page displays personalized recommendations, as well as more "social features" from Trip Planner. [...]


Local Search: More Is Not Always Better

Recently, we've seen a deluge of forecasts about massive financial opportunities associated with the growth of local search and local advertising. Whether you’re a company in the Internet search space, a yellow-pages directory, or a niche player, it is indeed tempting to get overly focused on how to earn your piece of the local search pie. None of the forecasts mean anything, though if we as an industry don’t first take care of the local consumer. As basic as it may sound, the caveat that you cannot serve advertisers well without first serving your consumers holds especially true in l [...]


SideStep Raises $15 Million

SideStep today announced that it raised $15 million in its Series C round, led by Norwest Venture Partners. Other VCs involved include Trident Capital, Leader Ventures and Saints Capital. To date, SideStep has raised aproximately $32 million. Competitor Kayak has raised $30 million. Norwest is an investor in Turn (the new CPA ad network), which is led by Jim Barnett. Jim Barnett sits on the board of SideStep. Small world. Also, Norwest is an investor in Yatra, an India based travel search engine, so they know something about the space. So what does the profitable travel search company [...]


Marchex Launches Review Aggregation Feature ‘Open View’

I wrote yesterday about Boorah, which is aggregating user reviews in the restaurant vertical to provide more coverage to consumers. Today, Marchex is formally launching its similar "Open View" technology on its Open List local/travel search site and its network of URL-based destinations, which have been substantially enhanced with Open List search and editorial content. (Marchex acquired Open List in May, 2006.) The roll out begins in the restaurants and hotels categories but will extend to others in the future. Open View has been around for awhile, but this is the formal announcement. Open [...]


PublicRoutes.com Adds Languages, Personalization

PublicRoutes.com, a service that helps you find directions from any point in several U.S. cities by subway, walking, driving or taking the bus, has added a translation feature that offers directions in 14 languages, and a feature called MyPublicRoutes, a personalization feature that remembers specific locations entered by users. PublicRoutes.com is available for New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Connecticut, Philadelphia and Texas. Available languages include English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Greek, Swedish, Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Japanese, Korean and [...]


Farecast Offers Insurance Policy on Airfares

Travel search engine Farecast officially launched its Fare Guard service, protecting flyers from volatile airfare prices. The service allows travelers to basically purchase an insurance policy on a flight for $10 ($3 until February 1), thus locking in the published rate. Fare Guard is available for about half of Farecast's listed flights according to Bob Tedeschi's NYTimes article. So how can Farecast offer this service while even airlines can't predict their own fares? Farecast tracks over a hundred pricing indicators to give travelers an idea of when to book to get the best price (her [...]


Checking Out Allcheckin Travel Search

I'm going to Berlin to speak at a travel conference in March, which meant booking a flight. With a British Airways strike looming, I wanted an alternative to fly from my closest airport -- London Heathrow -- to Berlin. But no one but BA seems to fly to Berlin from Heathrow, according to Expedia UK. Time to cast my net further, I figured. So I turned back to a small UK and Europe oriented travel search engine I wrote about briefly back in 2005, AllCheckin. I wanted to jot down a few notes of what I thought. Over time, I'm trying to play with more travel search alternatives, one by one. So, exp [...]


SideStep To Add Cruise Search, The Vertical Search Opportunity

Rounding out its travel search offerings, SideStep will soon launch cruise search, powered by CruisesOnly, the premier cruise brand of Boston-based NLG. While I was surprised by this announcement as I think SideStep has a lot of other fish in the frying pan it needs to focus on, Jon Robison explained that "CruisesOnly is a full service solution for us. We are leveraging a partner. It's light weight integration and doesn't distract us from Air, Car, and Hotel." The question for SideStep and all the other vertical search players is still how to gain loyalty in a world in which everyone ( [...]


New Mobile Flight Status Tracker By FlightStats

Gary Price reports that FlightStats has added a mobile flight tracking site at http://mobile.flightstats.com/. So for all you holiday season travelers, bookmark this address on your mobile device (I did), to check flight status, departures and arrivals, flight arrivals, airline & airport information, security wait times and more. [...]


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