Bing is beefing up its travel search results with deep TripAdvisor integration.
Search for a term like "Las Vegas hotels," and you'll now see aggregated star ratings from TripAdvisor users alongside the search results. Clicking on the rating takes you to TripAdvisor's website for more detailed user reviews.
Bing also pulls TripAdvisor ratings into its own business listing pages, so if you click Details for any listing, you'll see individual reviews from both TripAdvisor and CitySearch.
TripAdvisor's data has made its way into Bing's travel search sidebar as well. Search for a hotel, and on the right side of the screen, you can pick your travel dates and look up a list of rates. TripAdvisor's star ratings appear directly in the results.
It's a much different approach than what Google is doing with travel search. Instead of partnering with established companies, Google has tried to build its own user ratings through Google+. While Google has tried to beef up its own user reviews through acquisitions, that hasn't gone as well. A potential Yelp acquisition reportedly fell through in 2009, and after acquiring Frommer's last year, Google sold the company back to its owners last April.
The way that Bing and Google handle travel search is more similar than different. A hotel search on Google shows a strip of suggested places along the top of the screen, while Bing lists its hotels vertically in the main search results area. Both search engines have a sidebar where you can provide a date range for hotel prices, though Google's implementation requires one extra click.
The main difference now is that Bing has much more user data to draw upon. A search for the Bellagio in Las Vegas, for instance, yields 7611 TripAdvisor ratings on Bing, compared to 1,912 reviews on Google+. More reviews means more confidence, as the ratings will be less affected by outliers. As both Google and Bing try to fashion themselves as "knowledge engines" that tell you everything you need to know without sending you to another site, TripAdvisor's wealth of user data should be a big advantage for Microsoft.
To extend the collaboration further, TripAdvisor has also launched a native app for Windows 8.1. The touch-friendly app allows users to search for hotels, restaurants, and attractions without going to TripAdvisor's website--or using Bing.
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