November 16, 2010, 12:58 PM

Two travel providers make mobile moves

Orbitz launches two apps and beefs up its mobile site. Priceline unveils an Android app.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Lead Photo

Orbitz launched apps for both the iPhone and phones using Google's Android operating system

 Two online travel sites are taking trips further into mobile. Orbitz.com announced yesterday apps for the iPhone and smartphones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system as well as an m-commerce site. And name-your-price travel site Priceline.com added an Android app to its mobile offerings.

The Orbitz site, which consumers are redirected to after typing in Orbitz.com from a smartphone, enables mobile consumers to access all the tools of Orbitz.com—including the ability to book flights, hotels and cars. The site is an update to its original mobile site, launched in 2006. That site didn’t offer the ability to book and pay. The free iPhone and Android apps also enable travelers to book flights, hotels and rental cars. Both the apps and the site allow consumers to view their trip itineraries; check flight status, gate and baggage claim details; search for available hotels nearby and make same-day reservations.

 “Since we began testing the new Orbitz mobile web site a few months ago, it has become clear to us that consumers were becoming more comfortable booking travel on their mobile devices,” says Barney Harford, president and CEO, Orbitz Worldwide. “Based on these promising early results for our business, Orbitz is increasing its investment in mobile technologies to allow customers to shop and book travel on whatever device they choose.”

An Orbitz spokesman says both the updated mobile site and the new apps were developed using in-house resources as well as an outside vendor which he would not name. Moving forward, Orbitz plans to manage most of its mobile development in-house, he says.

At Priceline.com, a web site where shoppers can bid on a hotel stay knowing only the general location and star rating in an attempt to nab lower rates, the company has announced it has brought its Hotel Negotiator booking app to the Android. The free Android app follows a similar one Priceline launched for the iPhone last year. Like the Priceline web site, the app enables shoppers to choose a price, location and star rating and bid on a hotel stay. The Android app was created in-house by Priceline's mobile development staff, a Priceline spokesman says.

Hotel Negotiator for Android is designed for travelers who are on the road, at an airport, or have arrived in a city and need a room for the night, Priceline says. Travelers can book hotels until 11:00 p.m. Eastern time on the night they need the room. The app also offers a feature that enables shoppers to shake their smartphones to search based on their location. Travelers can also opt out of the bid format and choose to book knowing the name and exact location of the hotel upfront.

Shoppers can’t book book flights or rental cars or check flight status through the app, but the app hosts links to Priceline’s mobile site where they can complete those tasks.

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