Bing Maps has been an integral component for many travel companies across the globe. Whether it be used for searching for holidays or for agents to help in booking your next trip, Bing Maps has been seen as the platform of choice.
Our focus in providing solutions to our customers at an enterprise level and supporting the developer channels has been a key reason why organizations such as Marriot, British Airways, EasyJet have benefitted from the Bing Maps platform. Working with these organizations has also helped us further understand a number of other factors why Bing Maps is the platform of choice:
- The provision of a robust platform that is scalable to their business.
- Enterprise Support that is knowledgeable in not only supporting the ongoing use of Bing Maps but also aiding the initial development of their application
- Flexibility in the API’s to support multi-device and multi-browser environments.
- Global Footprint that aligns to their business – Bing Maps provides Global Imagery updated frequently to provide the most up to date and high resolution images
- Platform that allows them to be creative with the different styles available through Bing Maps be it through Birds Eye or Satellite Imagery or Road Maps.
- Bing Maps allows them to be Inspirational, Creative, Flexible and Dynamic. A great example of this is the EasyJet InspireMe service.
- Searching for Point of Interest is made easier as Bing Maps provides access a large categorized array of key businesses complementing the travel business such as Museums, Hotels and Restaurants etc.
- Accuracy is crucial in maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty. Through the Bing Maps Geo-coder and Routing services Travel Companies have the added comfort that their consumers can find & reach their desired location.
These are just some of the statements that we have heard from our customers. With the introduction of Windows 8 Bing Maps is ideally positioned to allow companies to extend their reach to their consumers by differentiating their service through the content they host and hold themselves. The British Airways Inspiration Application is a great example which is detailed further in this report.
Venue Maps in Bing Maps
Bing Maps is constantly striving to improve and enhance the services it provides to its customers. As well as the ongoing improvements new features and services keeps the platform ahead of the game and 1 such feature is the introduction of Venue Maps.
Born from a desire to show more than just finding your route from A to B, Venue Maps is designed to provide the user with another dimension to their location.
We are typically used to finding our way to the airport or amusement park by adding our location and the destination. However, would it not be great to actually see where the duty free store is at the airport once you check in or the actual location of Magic Kingdom when visiting Disney World?
First introduced in summer of 2011 in the US, Bing Maps now has over 4000 Venue’s worldwide ranging from Airports to Malls to Sporting Venue’s and this number is growing. Providing an additional dimension to mapping, Venue Maps is another key feature that Travel companies are keen to get their hands on to add value to their consumer offering.
From allowing users to simply navigate their way around the airport to travel companies monitoring visitor numbers to a specific resort or analyzing the best location for placing their promotional pod in a mall, Venue maps adds another layer of flexibility and functionality for improving the services they offer or how they manage their business.
Bing Maps also provides travel companies to embed their own Venues within their Bing Maps application, should it be the map of a resort or the layout of the Airport Lounge, through the use of a tool developed by the Microsoft Research Labs called MapCruncher.
All of these features – High Resolution Imagery, Points of Interest, Geocoding, Global Coverage, Venue Maps etc. have now all been extended to support the development of applications through the Windows 8 platform to gain presence in the Windows Store.
Bing Maps for Window Store
British Airways has created an excellent Windows Store application called The British Airways Inspiration App. This application is a great example of how a Windows Store app can be used to create an enhanced user experience and drive customers to your site. Rather than redeveloping their booking engine into a Windows Store app they took some of their great destination guide information that is often over looked on their website and turned it into an app where users can get ideas of places to travel to. They include information about destinations such as average temperatures, cost of a round trip ticket and a map of the location. If the user selects a month to travel to the destination they will be taken to the British Airways website.
Bing Maps for Mobile
The Bing Maps V7 AJAX control was designed with mobile in mind. The base control weighs in at only 38kb in size and makes use of HTML5 when available. It’s supported on all the major mobile platforms such as iOS, Android, Blackberry and WP8. Pairing this map control with tools such as jQuery mobile or PhoneGap will allow you to create excellent mobile map applications that have a mobile friendly user interface.
There are a number of great mobile applications already out there using Bing Maps. Two applications that make use of venue maps to show users the maps of airports are the United Airlines application for Windows Phone 8 and the FlySmart app for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry. These are definitely worth checking out.
Add Bing Maps to your Travel App
Now that you have seen all the great value Bing Maps can add to travel apps add it to yours. The Bing Maps platform has a number of API’s available to suit your needs. Read through the documentation or jump right in and try the interactive SDK. For more information or development assistance see the Bing Maps blog or forums. If you have any licensing questions contact us here.
Vikas Arora, Bing Map Solutions Specialist
Ricky Brundritt, EMEA Bing Maps Technology Solution Professional