Mobile Marketer has re-launched! Click here to learn more!

Orbitz singles out hotel bookings via iOS app

Online travel Web site Orbitz is segmenting its business into a hotel-only application to meet the growing need of the company?s same-day mobile hotel bookings.

The app aggregates hotel listings for users based on their location. The app is available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch devices.

?Mobile is interwoven into everything we do with Orbitz?s strategy,? said Chris Brown, vice president of product at Orbitz, Chicago.

?Internally, we found strong data to explore a single-purpose app for our consumers,? he said.

Quick bookings
According to Mr. Brown, approximately 65 percent of Orbitz's mobile bookings are made for same-day reservations from their current location, showing the on-the-fly behavior patterns behind mobile bookings.

To compare, approximately 12?18 percent of desktop bookings are for the same day.

The Hotels for Orbitz iPhone app uses the device?s GPS to find hotels that are nearest to a user?s location.

Using the app, consumers can filter results by amenities, area or hotel chain. Travelers can also view hotels by review ratings.

Consumers can also view a map to plot out where the nearest hotel is.

The app is driven by touchscreen features that force users to interact in order to make a booking.

For example, in order to select the dates that a user is looking for a hotel, they must slide their finger over a calendar and highlight the days.

To emphasize the importance of location, the app automatically sorts hotels by proximity, showing how crucial a user?s exact location is to mobile bookings.

Each hotel has a separate page that is divided into three categories with a summary of the hotel, user reviews and a booking option.

In order to book a hotel, users enter information including their name and payment information on a mobile-optimized page.

Unlike Orbitz?s Web site, users are asked for the bare minimum for information. Similarly, users are not given deals or packages via the app to make the hotel booking process as simple as possible.

App-driven world
In addition to the hotel app, Orbitz has developed booking apps for the iPhone, iPad, Android and a mobile Web site.

Most recently, Orbitz rolled out a mobile deal feature to let users search for last-minute travel deals (see story).

The purpose behind this initiative from Orbitz is different from things it has done in the past and tries to hone in on a specific group of Orbitz users. Unlike Orbitz?s other initiatives, the hotel booking app is a single-purpose tool.

Additionally, the Orbitz app is further proof of the growing trend of mobile bookings.

The Orbitz app is designed specifically for mobile users and eliminates the number of taps to book a hotel.

By making location the major feature of the app, it lets users quickly find information that is geo-targeted to their exact location.

According to Mr. Brown, hotels are the leading category for Orbitz?s services, which also include vacation packages, cars, cruises and flights.

?In the future, we are looking at our strategy to provide what is essential about the Orbitz brand into a broader multichannel strategy,? Mr. Brown said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York