The internet has made shopping for tickets and the like infinitely easier than before. But it certainly hasn't totally killed the uncertainty that comes with booking. How do you know when to book so that you get the best deal? Is this the best you're going to do? Orbitz is launching a series of tools in the "labs" section of its travel booking service to help you kill that uncertainty dead.

Amongst the first labs projects Orbitz is showing off are the well-timed (Or late?) "Big Game Flight Finder" and "Big Game Hotel Finder," designed specifically for that big game that's happening this weekend. But there's much cooler stuff like a utility that lets you search historic hotel rates by booking date so you can predict when you should buy. For example, if you want to book a room for March 21st, the best time to do it is six weeks before, so, next week. There are a bevy of additional tools including heatmaps, trends, animated charts, personalized recommendations, and so on. Orbitz plans to keep offering new stuff as it makes sense.


The tools are rough and some of them are more interesting than others. The whole project is reminiscent of the Google Labs settings you can switch on in your Gmail. It's like the minor leagues for features: Not all of them are useful, but some of them eventually graduate to the big show. Anything that makes booking travel easier is a welcome addition. [Orbitz Labs]