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Priceline tests location, contextual-based features to take mobile up a notch

Priceline is testing two new products that build on the company’s significant portion of mobile-generated sales to give consumers more options when booking a flight or hotel room. 

Priceline is experimenting with displaying Routehappy scores within the company’s app, which pulls together different forms of personal criteria to help consumers find the best flight. The other new feature is called Deals Near Me and is location-based to show relevant nearby hotel listings. 

“Knowing the type of place, Wi-Fi availability, seat choices, etc. can make a huge difference in the ‘happiness’ factor of a flight, and we want consumers to be able to make informed choices,” said Leslie Cafferty, spokeswoman for Priceline, Norwalk, CT.

“As we continue to focus on last-minute deals, the location-based technology for Deals Near Me brings the travel booking experience hyperlocal,” she said.

Customized travel
Priceline has partnered with Routehappy to make mobile travel experiences more customized and personalized.

Via the partnership, Priceline will be able to leverage Routehappy’s technology. Routehappy helps consumers find flights on the lowest possible price through algorithms that look at seat options, flyer reviews, flight times and other amenities.

Priceline began testing displaying these scores in the company’s iOS app on March 17.

Priceline claims that the company is the first to incorporate these types of features into a booking app from an online travel agent. 

The Routehappy partnership is aimed at helping travelers pull together a variety of factors when deciding when and where to book a flight.  

In addition to the partnership, Priceline is rolling out a feature called Deals Near Me within the company’s iPhone app to extend its hotel business.

Deals Near Me lets travelers find nearby hotel deals within a few miles of their current location. The feature pulls in deals with location-based pushpin technology. 

The new location-based feature also lets consumers swipe their finger over specific areas that may not be near them, but includes hotels that they are interested in. 

The deal feature is an example of how more online travel agencies are playing up location and context to drive last-minute sales.

Learnings from both features will be used to include in Priceline’s other mobile and Web products. 

The Deals Near Me feature

Building on booking success
Similar to other online travel agencies, mobile continues to make up a significant portion of last-minute bookings.

This on-device success is translating into mobile experiences beyond a smartphone or tablet.

In January, Priceline rolled out a connected car app with General Motors’ Chevrolet that uses voices commands to let consumers book hotel rooms (see story).

The company is also increasingly eyeing a bigger role in some of the on-property initiatives at hotels, including mobile check-ins and on-site purchases (see story).

“We’re all about seamless user experiences, so building these features right into the app ensures customers get quick access to the information that helps them without having to toggle between browsers or Web sites,” Ms. Cafferty said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York