Microsoft Bing” launched as a brand new travel search engine on June 1st. My initial reaction was that we need another travel search site like we need a hole in the head. Providers like Orbitz, Travelocity, and Expedia are already battling for market share by lowering or eliminating booking fees altogether, driving down their profitability and making it difficult to succeed in an already saturated industry. At least that’s what I thought until I actually tried the site.

Bing is different. Like other search engines, it “scrapes” data from hundreds of travel web sites worldwide to aggregate information about airfares and hotels. But it also offers some interesting services that others do not. Their Price Predictor shows if airfares are rising or dropping over the next seven days and provides a recommendation to buy now or buy later. Bing’s Rate Indicator compares each individual hotel’s current rate to its observed historical rates and indicates whether or not today’s rate for a specific hotel is a deal.This service is available from most major U.S. and Canadian cities for destinations worldwide.

It also provides a flexible search tool that compares fares for flights departing within a 30-day range. You can even set up a fare alert – Bing will notify you of the latest low fares for your selected trip. Perhaps most importantly, once you find the airfare or hotel that’s right for you and select it, Bing steps aside and lets you book it directly on the provider’s web site.

Additionally, Bing has a destination area where you can research potential vacation spots, as well as a Travel Blog, with content povided by some of the best travel writers in the industry. Check it out; I’m sure you’ll agree it’s head and shoulders above the rest.