Orbitz Rewards members aren't going to get huge savings initially, but they will be getting something right away. Whether this will be enough to be a meaningful boost to Orbitz's hotel ambitions remains to be seen.
Orbitz.com launched a rewards program geared to reduce its reliance on air bookings by providing incentives to book hotels, especially through its mobile apps.
Under the new Orbitz Rewards program, which launched today, users earn Orbucks in the following amounts: 5% when booking a hotel through Orbitz’s mobile apps for iPhone, iPad and Android; 3% when purchasing a hotel stay through other channels, including the desktop, and 1% on standalone flights and vacation packages.
Users who register for free for Orbitz Rewards earn these Orbucks almost immediately after booking, and can “burn them and earn them” on subsequent hotel bookings. In other words, they can redeem Orbucks when booking their next hotel room, and they will earn more Orbucks for that booking.
Chris Orton, president of Orbitz.com, tells Skift that the vast majority of bookings on Orbitz.com are for flights, and Orbitz Rewards is geared to boost hotel bookings, which is more lucrative.
Rather than accruing points over an extended period of time, Orbitz Rewards members can use the Orbucks they earn on their next booking.
But, will earning just three Orbucks on a $300 flight booked on Orbitz convince users to return to the site or Orbitz’s apps to book a hotel?
“The velocity tradeoff is profound,” Orton says, adding that saving a few bucks does alter consumer purchase patterns.
Orbitz piloted the rewards program, a form of which originated with its HotelClub business, for six months, and found that users would make a new booking after 29 days, which was a big improvement.
The company has high hopes of getting some traction with the new program, which comes with lots of visual clues, including showing on search results pages how much a booking would cost an individual user if he or she redeemed Orbucks.
Orbitz Rewards is also slated to be part of Google Wallet, which will enable users to readily keep track of their Orbucks amounts.
Here’s a video providing further detail about the program: