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European Flight Search Site Skyscanner Buys Travel Startup Zoombu

European flight search provider Skyscanner has acquired UK travel startup Zoombu, which only launched its own travel search site last year (the company started in 2008).

Zoombu was founded by Rachel Armitage and Dr. Alistair Hann, who have moved into key roles at Skyscanner. With Zoombu, their goal was to provide multiple transport options in a single search. 

TripAdvisor Introduces Airline Ratings To Flight Search

TripAdvisor said today it has introduced airline ratings to its flight search engine.

The new feature allows users to view feedback on airline experiences from other fliers and offer their own airline ratings.

 

Airline-Ratings

 

Google and FairSearch Argue ITA Acquisition on TV

As you may know, Google is trying to acquire ITA Software, but it has faced various hurdles, mainly led by a coalition called FairSearch, made up of travel sites. Now, the Department of Justice is looking at the deal. 

Facebook Gets New Instant Personalization Partner in TripAdvisor

Facebook announced today that it has partnered with TripAdvisor to bring "Instant Personalization" to the travel site. The integration will allow TripAdvisor users to tap into their friends’ travel experiences while planning their own trips. 

If a user is logged into Facebook, they can see friends’ reviews and access a map showing places where friends have visited, as well as a list of their most popular destinations. 

Bing Launches Destination Pages for Cities

Bing has launched “Destination Pages” for city searches. If you go to a city’s page, you will find information about events, weather, flights, news, etc. related to that city.  You can find them by simply searching on Bing for a city and clicking the "Destinations" tab. 

Another Video Paints Google and Eric Schmidt as Creepy
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If you have a beef with Google’s actions, the trendy thing to do these days appears to be making a video about it, and using Eric Schmidt quotes and likenesses, making them as creepy as possible. 

The latest such video comes from FairSearch.org. This is an organization that refers to itself as, "a group of businesses united in support of a healthy Internet future, where greater consumer choice and economic growth are driven by competition, transparency and innovation in online search."

Rand McNally Relaunches Its Travel Site

Rand McNally has relaunched its travel website, offering new travel and destination content, video travel guides, and travel services.

RandMcNally.com now features upgraded maps and directions, information on more than 15 million points of interest, more than 2,000 destinations, and offers more than 8,000 video travel guides.

YouTube Launches Travel Channel With Norwegian Cruise Line
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Norwegian Cruise Line said today it is working with YouTube to launch “YouTube Vacationer,” a travel specific channel.

YouTube Vacationer features travel advice and ideas from Lonely Planet, National Geographic and the Travel Channel.

"From a marketing perspective, this opportunity is compelling because it provides a truly organic user experience and represents another great way for brands to work with YouTube,” said Maria Miller, Norwegian Cruise Line’s senior vice president of marketing. 

 

Gowalla Gives Users New Trip Planning Tools
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Gowalla announced that it has some new trip tools and options today. 

"The Trips feature is one of our favorites on Gowalla, and it’s also a favorite of users, universities, businesses, non-profit organizations, you name it," the company says. "Something we’ve been meaning to knock out for a while and have finally gotten around to is making Trip creation an easier and smoother process, and we’re rolling it out today."

BBC.com Launches New Travel Site
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BBC.com has launched a new travel site in partnership with its sister company Lonely Planet.

BBC.com/travel is the first in a series of lifestyle sites, announced last month with the launch of the new BBC.com U.S. edition.

"We know the people who come to BBC.com are curious about the world and look to us to feed that curiosity," said Miranda Cresswell, SVP, BBC.com

Google Announces $700 Million Acquisition of ITA Software
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Google announced that it has signed an acquisition agreement with ITA Software. Reports of talks surrounding such an acquisition were revealed in April, but talk heated up again this week, mostly regarding issues of concern expressed by many in the travel industry.

Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP, Search Products & User Experience, has now posted to the Official Google Blog that an agreement has been signed. She writes:

TripAdvisor Launches New iPhone App

Online travel website TripAdvisor has launched a new TripAdvisor iPhone application, available on Apple’s App Store.

The free applications allow users to search for popular hotels, restaurants, attractions and cheap airfares. The application is available in 13 languages, giving users a localized experience on TripAdvisor.

"Our iPhone app gives people in 20 countries and 13 languages a new way to access the more than 35 million traveler reviews and opinions available on TripAdvisor," said Steve Kaufer, founder and CEO of TripAdvisor.

Google Assimilates Travel Site’s Team

A few travel experts are themselves completing a trip this morning.  Google’s managed to get the folks behind Ruba – a travel site – to join its organization, and they’re all going to the Googleplex.

Ruba is 15 months old, and prior to this arrangement, was backed by Benchmark Capital (which has also invested in eBay, Twitter, and Yelp) and Draper Fisher Jurvetson (of Baidu, Hotmail, Skype, and Tesla Motors fame).  That speaks to some pretty interesting things taking place.

TripAdvisor Moves Mobile Site Out Of Beta
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Travel review site TripAdvisor said today it has officially launched its mobile website.

The TripAdvisor mobile website is now available in 17 countries and 11 different languages. The beta version of the mobile site attracted more than one million unique monthly visitors.

On TripAdvisor’s mobile site, users can find nearby restaurants, hotels, attractions and directions to them via smartphones with GPS capabilities. Users can also post reviews and opinions while traveling.

Expedia Launches New iPhone App For Travelers
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Expedia has launched a new free iPhone application, TripAssist, that links to its mobile website to allow users to mange their travel itineraries.

TripAssist allows users to research flights, destinations, hotels, cars and activities. Once they make a reservation, they can manage and update their itineraries, find an alternative flight, research their seats and access real-time flight information.  The app also offers real-time SMS and email updates for free.

Yapta Taps Kayak For Flight Search

Airfare tracking service Yapta said today it is partnering with travel search site Kayak to power its flight search engine.

"By introducing Kayak’s best-in-class flight search engine, Yapta members now have greater access to flight data and are able to track prices for virtually any flight in the world," said Tom Romary, president and CEO of Yapta.

Bing Gets a Bunch of New Search Features
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Update: According to Bing, all of the features that were announced are now live. However, they do not appear to be live yet for me. I am guessing they will be soon at least.

New Google Feature Could Steal Some of Bing’s Travel Thunder

Google has launched a new "Translated Search" tool as one of the search engines search options. Google’s search options can currently be accessed by clicking "show options" on any results page, once a search has been performed (although you may not even have to do that soon). The idea is that searchers can more easily find and read content written in other languages.

Yahoo7 Acquires Major Travel Site
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The company that represents a 50-50 partnership between Yahoo and the Seven Network Limited, which is one of Australia’s largest media groups, is on the move.  Yahoo7 acquired Totaltravel.com for perhaps about $17 million.

Online Media Influencing Travel Decisions
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Less than half (39%) of Americans are using online media to research their choice of travel services, according to a new report from Ad-ology Research.

Hotel websites were found to have the most influence on consumers while online content also influenced 34 percent to visit local attractions like amusement parks, zoos, and concerts.

Suitcase with Money

Have Bing, Will Travel
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Today Microsoft launched a new Bing feature for travel, appropriately called Bing Travel. Microsoft says that 45% of people use a search engine to select a flight or hotel. This is the main inspiration for Bing Travel.

Bing Travel conducted a survey recently that found 52% of potential travelers search three or more sites before booking their airfare. 42% of travelers spend between one and four weeks weighing their travel options, and 17% spend over a month.