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New travel search engine makes its debut

For those of us who live and breathe travel, it's always an event when a new travel-related tool makes its debut. Monday saw the arrival of one such tool, the new search engine www.search.travel, which is both exciting (for its potential) and frustrating (because of its current limitations).

The search engine is operated by the same company that owns the ".travel" Internet domain. Only companies that submit to an "authentication process" that verifies their legitimacy as a travel provider or other industry-related service are allowed to purchase and use the .travel domain. That, in theory, gives those companies an extra helping of legitimacy for consumers trying to sort through the zillions of travel sites out there. I say in theory because I'm not certain just how thorough the process is beyond the skeletal guidelines on the travel.travel website.

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The search.travel engine allows users to search either by category or in a freeform manner for companies registered with the .travel domain. The engine searches the entire Internet, but results are heavily skewed toward the .travel registrees. I'm sure you can see the up and down sides of this, but here's my take.

  • The "good." In essence, you're getting a search engine that tries to filter out the unqualified (or fake) search results. Good idea.
  • The "bad." On the other hand, the engine favors those who've paid to register with its parent company, meaning the results will be skewed toward paid clients. That's a problem for me.
  • The "ugly." The execution of the new search engine isn't completely perfect yet, either. I searched for "hiking in Nepal" (my current obsession) and got back 31,800 search results, the first several of which were for hiking boots. Thanks, but I already have a nicely broken in pair.

Still, this is a start, and some of my other searches returned more useful results for sites and companies I hadn't heard of before today. That in itself is enough reason for me to add the search.travel engine to my list of tools I use when planning my vacations and adventure travel trips for my monthly column, The American Adventurer.

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