If it’s possible to have a funeral for a travel company that’s already been dead for awhile, then this would be an opportune moment because Bing Travel ended its flight predictions that advised users to buy now or wait.
Microsoft/Bing inherited the flight prediction service when it acquired Farecast for $115 million in 2008, but has now indicated that it has killed the fare prediction service so it can better devote its resources elsewhere.
In 2008, the acquisition was considered hot as Farecast was actually doing something that no other travel player was doing — mining historical fare data and using predictive technology — to inform consumers when to buy flights, and Microsoft was poised to be a big player in travel.
Farecast was Big Data before Big Data.
But, Microsoft blew it almost from the outset. While “travel” had a presence on the Bing homepage when Microsoft launched Bing in 2009, supposedly to compete with Google, Microsoft dropped the Farecast branding and even phased out the Bing Travel branding, and swallowed up the whole thing within “Bing.”
Microsoft’s acquisition of Bing even fed Google’s desire to acquire ITA Software a couple of years later to compete with Bing. Google had to have an answer in travel, was the thinking.
Over the years, as Bing Travel faded and much of the Farecast team migrated to other companies, Microsoft ended up farming out its flight search to Kayak, and its hotel search to TripAdvisor.
The hotel search now has a lame hotel rate indicator to inform consumers whether a deal is a “deal” or just an average deal.
The service isn’t very helpful and there is absolutely no reason to use Bing for travel. There are so many better alternatives elsewhere, options where companies are focusing on travel and not “Bing.”
Whether Bing Travel/Farecast could have made it and competed just based on the flight prediction differentiator is open to debate, but Microsoft Bing never even gave it a try.