One of my favorite travel websites is Farecast.com. The website makes predictions about the price of airfare for major airlines, and it advises whether consumers should purchase their tickets or wait to purchase them, based on a proprietary algorithm (which is based on historic trends and other factors).
From a branding perspective, Farecast is a great brand. Fare from “airfare” is combined with “cast” from forecast, creating a “farecast,” which is a forecast of airfare. The brand is short, unique, and memorable, a powerful branding combination.
A few months ago, I noticed that when I typed in Farecast.com, I was redirected to Farecast.Live.com. The site was still branded as Farecast, but it was redirected to a Microsoft URL. Based on this, I assumed Microsoft had purchased the company, but nothing had really changed so I didn’t think much of it.
Yesterday I received an email from a sender called “bing travel,” and the email notified me that, “Live Search Farecast has joined forces with MSN Travel to become Bing Travel.” I visited Farecast.com, and noticed that the header said “Bing” and there doesn’t seem to be any mention of Farecast. In my opinion, this is a HUGE branding mistake.
Not only has Microsoft killed a great unique brand in Farecast, but it rebranded as a still little-known brand, “Bing.” I understand what they are tying to do – get people familiar with the Bing brand, but it just seems too risky. IMO, “Bing Travel” sounds like a small family travel agency rather than a powerful airfare comparison tool. I think this is a “bing” mistake.
The other (smaller) mistake Microsoft is making is that BingTravel.com doesn’t resolve. They were smart enough to buy it back in July of 2007, but it currently goes to a dead page, despite being on MSFT nameservers.
Only time will tell if this was a smart move, but at least in the short term, I don’t think it wasn’t. This is especially true because I would find it strange to recommend Bing Travel to friends, especially because BingTravel.com doesn’t work!