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Orbitz drives app downloads, awareness via MADD partnership

The Orbitz hotel iPhone app

Orbitz is spreading the word about its hotel-booking applications via a partnership with Mothers Against Drunk Driving that aims to show users how simple it is to book a hotel room from their handsets.

The Orbitz-MADD campaign will take place over Saint Patrick’s Day weekend and encourages users to stay safe during the holiday. For each Orbitz iOS app downloaded from March 16 – 18, Orbitz will donate to MADD.

“On big events, we see a spike in mobile traffic and bookings and are seeing up to 65 percent of hotel bookings for the same day,” said Chris Brown, vice president of product at Orbitz, Chicago.

“The apps help people make last-minute plans and this is a great opportunity to help with MADD,” he said.

Orbitz is an online travel company that lets users search and book flights, hotels, car reservations, cruises and vacation packages.

Mobile bookings
Orbitz will donate $1 to MADD for each download of either the company’s iPhone or iPad hotel app. Orbitz will donate up to $20,000 to MADD.

Specifically, the iPhone and iPad app were chosen because of the emphasis on hotel bookings versus Orbitz’s other apps that also include car rentals, flights and vacation packages.

The campaign encourages people celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day to find a safe way home before heading out, including booking a hotel.

Because a large chunk of Orbitz’s mobile hotel bookings are made for same-day reservations, educating consumers on the app and showing them how it works is a great way for the company to spread the word on its mobile marketing efforts.

In addition to the company’s iPhone and iPad app, Orbitz also has apps for Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7 and a mobile site.

Safety first
Although mobile bookings are hot, one of the biggest issues that online traveling companies such as Orbitz face is finding a way to get users to download and keep an app on their mobile device.

In addition to donating to MADD, Orbitz is also able to spread the word about its mobile app via the partnership, which could help the company increase the number of mobile bookings.

It is not enough to throw an app into the marketplace and hope it gets noticed. Instead, companies need to think critically about how to let users know about their apps with calls to action in other marketing campaigns.

Orbitz has recently aligned its mobile strategy to target hotel bookings specifically, showing how users are looking to book last-minute stays via their handsets.

The company recently created its hotel-only app by enticing users to book from it with a deals section, and the MADD partnership is an example of how the company is aiming to promote it (see story).

“Our apps are strong apps, and the program for MADD is a great program, so it is a great idea to mix the two with this opportunity,” Mr. Brown said.

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