Bing announced the release of "Action Buttons" in search results today. These are buttons on certain types of search results (including travel-related) that allow you to engage in specific actions related to that result.
Think about things like checking into a hotel or a flight, checking on a flight status, booking a flight, renting a car, etc.
"Now when you search across 7 popular categories - including airlines, couriers (e.g. FedEx), restaurants, banks, rental cars, software downloads and hotels - you will be presented with buttons for top actions on the site, that directly take you to the page where you can complete your task," explains Bing Program Manager Deepak Vijaywargi.
"Based on how people search, our algorithms now determine top actions and corresponding links in the site for a given category with high precision," says Vijaywargi. "For instance, with airlines the top 3 tasks are: check-in to a flight, check the status of a flight or book a flight. For software sites, if you are searching for a specific product you likely want to download it. For car rental agencies, you’d like to rent a car, find out locations or contact them."
Bing pitches the feature as an extension of its deep link inclusion on search results, but I'd say this is probably one of the most interesting things Bing has done with its results in a while. Bing has always positioned itself as wanting to get you the answers and get things done as quickly as possible, and this should, in theory at least, help with that.
It will be interesting to see if Google borrow's the idea.