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Orbitz debuts mobile commerce triple play

Online travel agency Orbitz has launched applications for Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android mobile devices that let customers shop and book a selection of air, car rental and hotel options.

Additionally, the company announced the launch of a commerce-enable mobile Web site at that lets consumers to access Orbitz and book travel from any Web-enabled mobile phone. Enabling commerce via Android, iPhone and the mobile Web simultaneously was a priority for Orbitz.

“We wanted to launch all of the key features and functionality of our online travel agency natively with iPhone and Android apps, as well as upgrade our mobile Web site—we wanted to hit with all three of these at once,” said Chris Brown, vice president of product strategy at Orbitz, Chicago. “We knew we had to go hard after transactions, the commerce aspect, because our customers have been asking for that piece.

“It was clear where the industry was going, and folks wanted to be able to do the core capabilities of our PC Web site on their mobile phones, and we decided to pursue all major product paths—the mobile Web, iPhone and Android,” he said. “This is first major step of many over the next few months.

“We made a decision early on to work on both iPhone and Android simultaneously and launch them at the same time as the upgraded mobile site.”

Orbitz Worldwide’s is an online travel company that lets travelers search for and book an array of travel products, including airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises and vacation packages.

Mobile travel bookings
Orbitz applications for iPhone and Android are both available to download for free.  Visit for more details.

Since the company began testing the new Orbitz mobile website a few months ago, it became clear that consumers were becoming more comfortable booking travel on their mobile devices.

Based on these promising early results for its mobile commerce business, Orbitz is increasing its investment in mobile technologies to let customers to shop and book travel on whatever Web-enabled device they choose.

The Orbitz applications for iPhone and Android, as well as the next generation of the Orbitz mobile Web site, now let travelers make reservations.

Consumers can use the mobile site or applications to book flights, hotels and rental cars quickly – even for last minute, same-day reservations.

Just like, mobile users can access a selection of hotels, airlines and car rental options.

Consumers on the go and also view their trips, accessing their itineraries anytime, anywhere using their handsets.

Mobile site visitors and application users can also check their flight status, gate and baggage claim details.

The applications automatically pinpoint users’ GPS location to enable search for available hotels near their current location.

Orbitz customers booking through a mobile device also benefit from Price Assurance protection for flights and prepaid hotel bookings, just like when booking on their desktop. 

With Orbitz Price Assurance, if another Orbitz customer books the same prepaid hotel room or flight for less, the company will automatically send consumers a cash refund for the difference.

Consumers can sign in via mobile and get access to their credit card information and past usage history,  and with the native applications they can adjust the settings so they will already be signed in when they open the app.

Application users can also access their itinerary offline or when their handset is in airplane mode.

“Searching and booking looks similar to what you’re doing on the desktop,” Mr. Brown said. “You can also can search hotels near me, and the apps give approximate mileage from the GPS location of your phone.

“We’re taking advantage of the smartphones’ native capabilities whenever possible,” he said.

Orbitz is getting the word out about the applications and mobile site via a mobile advertising push with AdMob and featured placement on its desktop Web site.

Early days
Orbitz claims that it was the first full-service online travel company to launch a mobile Web site in 2006.

The site enabled consumers to access Orbitz from any Web-enabled mobile phone.

Initial launch features included the ability to check flight status and search for available hotels in 20 top U.S. markets.

The company deemed that the time was right to commerce-enable its mobile site and launch the two commerce-enabled applications.

While it is still early days, Orbitz is quite bullish on the prospects for mobile commerce.

“Mobile commerce will grow aggressively compared to where it is now,” Mr. Brown said. “It is starting from a small base, but we expect to see significant growth.

“We’re in the early days of transacting on the mobile Web and via apps, but it is an important strategic initiative for us moving forward,” he said. “Mobile is the new frontier of commerce, and we’ve always tried to stay ahead of the curve.”

Final Take