Bing Partners with Kayak to Gouge Google in Travel Search

Microsoft's March 4 partnership with travel search provider Kayak is another slap to the face of Google, which is trying to buy ITA Software, whose data fuels Bing Travel and Kayak.

Microsoft Bing partnered with Kayak March 4, marking the second consecutive week the search upstart attacked market leader Google in one of its weaker areas: travel search.

Kayak will fuel flight search results in the U.S. from multiple cities, airports and airlines on Bing. This will give Bing Travel users access to a broader set of flight options for booking travel on Bing.

Bing positioned the move as part of its strategy to partner with popular Internet companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Wolfram Alpha. The idea is that Bing will integrate technology from those companies so it can focus on other feature sets.

However, by partnering with Kayak Bing is also dinging Google. Like Bing, Kayak uses flight fare and scheduling information from ITA Software, which Google is trying to buy for $700 million to fortify its weak travel search provisions.

The Justice Department is closely scrutinizing Google's acquisition bid. The DOJ could sue to block the bid or impose compulsory licensing terms that prevent Google from preventing ITA customers such as Kayak and Bing from accessing the ITA flight data firehose.

Kayak and Microsoft are both opposing the Google-ITA merger through the coalition, which was created by travel search providers to lobby the DOJ to halt the acquisition.

So while Google is negotiating with the government to buy ITA, whose data its wants to funnel into its own travel search tools, Bing and Kayak are presenting a unified front.

At the micro-level, Kayak has found fresh placement for its results on Bing and Bing has bolstered its own flight search offerings. At the macro-level, Bing has added another arrow in its quiver to use against Google.

Bing won't make that point overtly, chalking up the partnership as a way to improve its search to help customers make faster, more informed travel decisions.

"So what does this mean for customers?" said Krista Pappas, Global Travel Industry Director for Bing. "It means Bing Travel is getting more powerful and comprehensive when it comes to helping customers plan and book travel."

However, Microsoft and Kayak have a less than cordial history. Not long after Microsoft launched Bing in June 2009, Kayak sent the company a legal letter telling the search upstart to stop copying it, according to Wired.

Bing's Kayak partnership also came one week after Bing also added autosuggest to its Price Predictor flight service on Bing Travel.

This feature displays flight prices, including Bing's prediction of the best flight price over the next 90 days, directly in the search box without the user having to hit the enter button.

Bing can talk about how the Kayak deal and autosuggest tool improve its travel search service for customers, but these moves are also slaps in Google's face.