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Hotwire Hopes Its New Mobile Play Will Make it Relevant Again

@denschaal

Skift Take

Hotwire has fallen on tough times, but don’t count it out. Expedia has been putting a lot of offline advertising money into Hotwire, and as it pledged, is focusing on mobile.

— Dennis Schaal

It’s been a tough couple of years for Expedia’s Hotwire, which has seen Priceline, with its copycat Express Deals product and advertising blitz, eat into Hotwire’s market share.

Hotwire replaced its president in 2013, and was given a mandate to become more of a mobile play.

Hotwire has been making strides and the business should stabilize in 2014, according to Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

In addition to more aggressive TV advertising in recent months, now we can see what Hotwire’s been up to in its turnaround strategy as this month it unveiled significant changes to its iOS and Android apps, enabling logged-in users to book a room from the home screen with a relatively few number of taps.

Like Priceline’s Express deals, Hotwire shows discounted hotel rates (up to 60% off published rates) up-front in a given section of a city without disclosing the name of the hotel until after the booking is completed.

With the redesigned iOS app, users search for a hotel from the home screen and then instead of reading a lot of verbiage about $78 rates or $55 rates in given city sections, users merely view the rates by neighborhood on a map. It is very easy to get oriented and to visualize which sections of the city offers which rates.

Users then merely tap on a neighborhood on a map and then navigate to a screen with the hotel details (but not the name), such as the rate, the section of the city, whether it has free Wi-Fi or parking, the discount off published rates, and a powerful message that 95% of customers recommended the hotel, for example.

Tap again and users navigate to a “Book now” button, and they can enter their details or sign in to streamline the booking process.

In addition to redesigning its mobile apps, Hotwire is advertising heavily on TV in the U.S., a combination of initiatives that Expedia officials are confident will turn around its discount brand.

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