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Orbitz jumps ahead of competition by offering in-app vacation packages

Orbitz is raising the bar for online travel agents on mobile by becoming the first to offer vacation package purchasing options within its application.

Orbitz has unveiled a new mobile steals program for vacation packages, enabling customers to save up to 50 percent when booking a deal through its app. This move suggests that consumers are increasingly searching for one-stop shops in which they may purchase their flights and accommodations at the same time when using their tablet or smartphone while on-the-go.

“As consumers become more familiar with using handheld devices for their online activity, OTAs need to adapt in order to grow and even retain their base of loyal users,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis, Atlanta. “With U.S. travel being at $289+ billion and growing, this sector has to be given increased attention to ensure travelers have an easy-to-use application making their trips more comfortable.

“Orbitz adding full trip vacation options is important to their consumers as the need for changes and quick edits will most likely happen en route and a large percentage of travelers don’t pull their laptops out during travel anymore,” she said.

“OTAs in general should and probably will pay attention and follow in Orbitz’s footsteps with full trip package access on their mobiles in short order.”

Spreading its wings
The plethora of third-party booking apps permeating the hospitality sector requires marketers to constantly evolve by rolling out newer features and all-inclusive options. Most users have no desire to use three separate sites or apps for booking a car rental, flight and hotel stay, meaning that it is most optimal for booking brands to offer cohesive, all-in-one package deals.

Users on Orbitz’s app may now search and book thousands of hotel and flight vacation packages with the tap of a finger. The app displays packages with the best value, so that customers visiting a single location may receive all necessary travel information at once.

Guests may also customize their package to include their preferred room type and flight, as well as indicate if they are interested in changing hotels during the vacation. Before a purchase is completed, Orbitz will show the user how much he or she saved by booking the flight and hotel simultaneously.

The vacation package feature is currently live on Orbitz’s Android app, and will be available on the iOS version later this month.

Mobile’s influence on travel
Orbitz claims it has experienced a 100 percent uptick in vacation package bookings made via smartphones on its mobile site, prompting the brand to introduce the feature for app users. Travel enthusiasts are no longer relying on mobile solely for research purposes; instead, they are completing purchases while on-the-go with increasing fervor.

As the number of last-minute booking apps grows, travel marketers will need to adopt newer technologies such as Apple Pay and Touch ID to offer streamlined in-app payment options and remain competitive (see story).

Orbitz customers spend nearly $1,700 on vacation packages, on average, while booking up to two months in advance.

The marketer would be well-suited to offer initial incentives to fuel more new customers to purchase vacation packages within the app.

“Orbitz should run campaigns in parallel with this announcement that will offer package deals to get consumers to login from their handheld and try the new features, in order for them to experience the ease of use and speedy return times for information and booking, which are phenomenal,” Ms. Troutman said.

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York