DATALODE
DataLode Customer Story
Orbitz - Deal Detector

The Direct Marketing Dilemma
Orbitz is a website that makes it easy to find great deals on travel - a joint effort among American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Northwest and United. But helping customers find the lowest price among the widest selection of airline fares, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages is not simple. Moreover, promoting specific fares and programs to receptive consumers requires well-timed and well-targeted communications.

Direct marketing efforts such as postcards and e-mail campaigns are valuable brand-builders and do increase website traffic, but specific fares and promotions cannot be easily targeted to exactly the consumers who want them, when they want them. This is the direct marketing dilemma.

Orbitz was determined to find a way to let their customers interact with Orbitz one-to-one, by actually tailoring the marketing they want to receive, choosing how and when they want to receive it, and most importantly - allowing consumers to immediately act upon the promotion and complete a purchase transaction spontaneously. "Orbitz likes cutting edge technology," explained Darren Kuhn, e-Marketing Strategist for Orbitz. "So we knew that we could find a technology solution to the problem."

"Using DataLode's interactive marketing technology, Deal Detector is getting us more qualified leads than many of our other direct marketing efforts."
- Darren Kuhn, e-Marketing Strategist, Orbitz

Increasing Sales by Putting A Travel Agent on the Desktop
Orbitz began searching for a software solution that would let their computer-savvy customers define the travel destinations and fares that they want, and then automatically alert them on their desktop whenever a match was found.

"We wanted to have a travel agent literally sitting on consumers' computer desktops," said Kuhn. "We can send e-mails with fare notices and special promotions, and we already e-mail coupons, run banner ads, and do keyword buys on all the major search engines, but we wanted something more - something unique to Orbitz, and something more interactive and customer-friendly."

Orbitz found that special something in the form of a proprietary interactive marketing technology, called RealConnect, from DataLode. Orbitz selected DataLode and its RealConnect Marketing product as the technology foundation for a new initiative dubbed "Deal Detector." Unlike Web-based or e-mail centric CRM solutions, DataLode's RealConnect features "DirectDisplay," which is a private, permissioned, two-way communications channel for interacting with customers via their computers. The application is plainly visible at all times in the systems tray of the computer desktop, and not only does it bypass the glutted e-mail inbox, it also can be branded with a company logo.

Orbitz commissioned DataLode to build a product called Deal Detector, which allows consumers to enter their destinations, preferred travel dates and the price they are willing to pay into a simple dialog box, and be automatically notified via a small dialog and flashing icon on their computer desktop whenever a match is found. "DataLode was very flexible in building the tool to Orbitz's needs," continued Kuhn. "Initially we were going to let customers search for just one round-trip fare, but then we expanded to three. Plus we added features to select for non-stop flights and to include bonus days.

Market Results: RealConnect Connects with Customers
DataLode hosts its RealConnect software as an ASP, which sped deployment of the Orbitz initiative considerably and allowed the first version of the Orbitz-branded Deal Detector to be built in 10 weeks. "The ASP route was easier to get started and test market acceptance. And there were never any big concerns about the back-end, either," said Kuhn. "It was defining the user interface that took the most time and effort."

Orbitz deployed the initial release of Deal Detector by inviting 1.7 million customers, segmented into various demographic groups, to download Deal Detector (a small software agent to install on their computers) in order to begin receiving personalized alerts. Within twelve weeks, over 44,000 customers had opted in and downloaded Deal Detector. During the twelve week campaign, over 90% of the customers who received at least one personalized alert from Deal Detector during the campaign took action and went to the Orbitz website. In addition each time a new personalized alert went out it had, on average, a 40% click-thru rate. "The initial test market results showed that Deal Detector was more effective in generating quality leads than even our the most targeted email campaigns", stated Kuhn. "It definitely exceeded my expectations." Kuhn credits DataLode�s backend infrastructure as the power behind the campaign. DataLode's robust RealConnect Server processed over 3.5 million transactions generating almost 100,000 personalized alerts and managed an average 82 searches per installed customer.

Moreover, Orbitz observed that a large number of test customers were forwarding Deal Detector invitation to their friends and colleagues. "Getting such a large viral marketing boost was an unexpected side effect -- It was fantastic!" said Kuhn.

�Using DataLode�s interactive marketing technology, Deal Detector is getting us more qualified leads than many of our other direct marketing efforts," concluded Kuhn. "And we�re doing it in a way that is creative and unique to Orbitz and welcomed by our customers."

Orbitz Background
Orbitz is a leading online travel company offering consumers the widest selection of low airfares, as well as deals on lodging, car rentals, cruises and vacation packages. Orbitz makes finding low fares and great deals easier through a state-of the-art flight search engine that scans more than 455 airlines and the Orbitz Matrix Display that provides an unbiased and comprehensive listing of airfares and other rates. Orbitz also offers the largest collection of discounted web-only airfares and low-priced hotel web rates. For more information, visit www.orbitz.com.

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