On these pages we often discuss new services, both for the specific vacation rental market and the larger online travel industry. Today, we'd like to highlight what's been happening with Farecast.com.
Similar to Kayak.com, which we wrote about several months ago, Farecast is a "meta" search engine. Farecast provides "Smart Travel Search" by searching flight and hotel information from other online travel search engines and aggregating this information for consumers. Then comes the special sauce: by analyzing historical airfare and hotel rates over the prior 90 days and future trends, Farecast provides predictions on whether airfare prices will rise or fall or whether a quoted hotel rate is a deal or not.
Farecast also has a number of tools to help you plan the best times to travel, and presents the information in a clean, consumer-friendly format. Currently, predictive features for airfare is available for domestic travel between 75 airports. Hotel rate predictions, still in beta, are available for 30 US cities.
Through a partnership with MSN, Farecast has an integrated flight search module on the MSN Travel homepage. Data from Compete.com indicates that in September, MSN Travel was responsible for 10% of Farecast's estimated 630,000 unique visitors for that month. The graphic below highlights Farecast's continued popularity and surging monthly visitors.
With these predictive tools, Farecast increases consumer confidence and eliminates some of the guesswork in searching for the cheapest flight for your travel. This is incredibly valuable for converting online consumers from browsing to actual booking. And vacation rentals? Hmmm, sounds like just the industry that could benefit from an online service that increased consumer confidence!