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November 4, 2009

Shatner in the house

Shatner in the house Inc.’s Hotel Negotiator application lets iPhone and iPod touch users book last-minute hotel rooms using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price service.

Consumers can perform a variety of functions such as interacting with Priceline’s spokesman William Shatner and a check out in just one click. The application is free to download.

“We believe that there are customers who would like to use our travel services, particularly for booking hotels while they’re on the road in mid-trip,” said Brian Ek, spokesman for Priceline, Norwalk, CT. “Offering mobile solutions can be a more convenient travel-booking option than, say, a laptop.”

Priceline provides worldwide online travel services such selling airline tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, cruises and vacation packages.

Booking on the fly
A consumer must have or create a Priceline account to fully leverage the application and its features.

The Hotel Negotiator application opens with a splash animation of William Shatner punching through the screen.

The application features a one-page checkout screen to help speed users through the bidding process. Consumers get instant bid results to know whether or not their bid is accepted.

If the bid is accepted, the consumer will receive all the details on their hotel and its location.

When a city is picked, the application displays multiple recent winning bids made by other customers for hotels in different parts of the city at different star levels. Star levels are ratings done by Priceline customers.

Shaking the iPhone or iPod touch establishes the consumer’s location using the device’s GPS capabilities. After being shaken, the application searches for winning bids for hotels in the consumer’s surrounding area.

For consumers who do not want to bid, the application also has an option for browsing Priceline’s published-price hotels.

Hotel listings can be sorted by user rating, price, proximity and popularity. 

The hotel listings include addresses, Priceline’s star level, customer reviews and satisfaction scores, maps, pictures and descriptions.

All of the hotels on the list can be booked via the application or with the click-to-call function.

The application also features links to Priceline’s iPhone-optimized Web site, where a consumer can check flight status, as well as browse and book airline tickets and rental cars on a published-price or bidding basis.

Mr. Ek said that the application helps Priceline serve the last-minute hotel customer while out on the road and targets the frequent traveler or someone who wants an idea of the local geography before booking.

While Priceline may have an application and mobile site, Mr. Ek said that mobile is not yet a large blip on the company’s radar.

“It’s not a major piece of our marketing strategy today,” Mr. Ek said. “However, we feel it is important to start gaining experience in the area now.

“Priceline’s Name Your Own Price brand has always been slightly futuristic, so mobile is a natural venue for us – and for our spokesman, William Shatner,” he said.

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Chirs Harnick is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach him at

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