Farecast Rebranded As ‘Bing Travel’

I’m in Seattle for SMX Advanced and after the “meet and greet” I had a very nice dinner with David Mihm and Chris Silver Smith at the Flying Fish, which was very good. After trying to use several sites on my Android ION/G2/Magic we just found one the old fashioned way: walking to a busy street and looking at menus.

We didn’t talk that much about search — well a little — and a little about the name Bing, “the sound of found.” That’s not the formal tag line or slogan but an internal reference that Miguel Helft of the NY Times publicly revealed in an earlier article about the launch. Even though it doesn’t seem to be part of Microsoft’s plan I like it quite a bit from a marketing standpoint — the “sound of found.”

I woke up this morning to an email that said Farecast was now Bing Travel.

Picture 9

Travel is arguably the strongest of the four key content verticals that Microsoft is pursuing vs competitors: Local, Shopping, Travel and Health. (Images and video search functionality are quite good on Bing.)

When I say strongest, I mean most differentiated as part of the search experience. Local may in fact be the weakest. I think that Microsoft needs to do some work on Maps/Local. The mapping functionality is great but the data and the presentation of results are not as great.

David Mihm and I discussed how Google should probably have an editorial team devoted to cleaning up or otherwise policing and ensuring the quality of the data. Similarly Microsoft could undertake an effort to enhance and improve its local data, which come from the commercial databases. I’m not knocking them (Localeze in particular is trying to do a bunch of work around data quality). But the engines need to go beyond this and use UGC editing and some editorial as well.

There are other ways that Bing could be quite different than Google on the local front. What Bing essentially does at the top SERP level is just “ape” the 10 Pack, although it’s eight listings in Bing’s case:

Picture 10

I know that Microsoft is trying to “leverage” three screens (PC, mobile, TV/Xbox) to their advantage. That strategy could also pay dividends in the local arena if done right and well.

A couple of years ago, upon the launch of Virtual Earth I suggested to Microsoft that the company put it on the XBox where a faster connection would really show off the 3D modeling and create a better user experience. In addition, a social network or social network data built on top of the Virtual Earth platform would be very interesting on TV. But there are simpler things the company could do as well.

In local there’s typically a great deal of effort and attention paid to the functionality built around the data but less often to the data itself.

We’ll see what Microsoft does. I suspect there are no local-specific initiatives within Bing, however.

4 Responses to “Farecast Rebranded As ‘Bing Travel’”

  1. Chris Silver Smith Says:

    For those still at SMX Advanced, the restaurant we ended up eating at was BluWater Bistro on 1st Ave – I ate there last year, and I think it was even better this year (we happened upon a great night/time, since there were few people in the restaurant). I had scallops with a coconut curry sauce over black rice — a fusion dish which was fantastic. Greg’s fish tacos looked good and Mihm’s calimari didn’t look half bad either, but I think I got the best item of the three.

  2. Greg Sterling Says:

    Chris: Was it the bluwater bistro in fact? It was good.

  3. Chris Silver Smith Says:

    No, you’re right, Greg! It was Flying Fish!

    Ugh! my brain crossed wires.

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