We’ve known for a long time that Google has a high priority on getting travel information to its searchers. After all, they offered ITA$600 million and persisted through the legal earthquake that resulted to get access to flight data. Now we’re seeing the first in what’s expected to be a long list of new travel-oriented features: flight schedules in a search widget.
The widget automatically populates when users do relevant searches (“flights from X location to Y location,” for example, or just “X location flights”). While the basic information (airlines that conduct such flights, how many daily flights there are, the duration of the flight, etc.) is automatically displayed, the widget remains a compact extra at the top of the search page. Users can, however, click on the “schedule of non-stop flights” button to receive details such as the flight names and numbers, flight times, and regular dates for the flights.
Surprisingly enough, Google didn’t get this information from ITA. Rather, according to the Inside Search Blog, it’s just “a small step towards making richer travel information easier to find.” Both this widget and the yet-to-be-integrated ITA resources push toward the same goal: lots and lots of travel search features. For Google, having high-powered travel search options is more than a minor deal. It allows them to compete with their primary competitor Bing’s area of focus. Since Bing continually develops and pushes for new travel features and has gotten an intensely strong foothold on that segment of the market, Google is playing catchup – but, thanks to the acquisition of ITA, should be able to play catchup very well.
[via the Inside Search Blog]