Orbitz Gives Wink To Business Travel

Orbitz puts its customer service technology on a pedestal this month with new creative flagging Orbitz TLC alerts.

A TV spot, via Young & Rubicam, Chicago, features game show personality and company spokesman Wink Martindale, who appears on a plane after the pilot announces the flight will be in a holding pattern. Martindale launches “Take on Orbitz,” pitting two passengers in a contest to see who can alert clients from midair that they’ll be late for a meeting. One passenger frantically slides his credit card through a seat-back air phone; meanwhile, the Orbitz customer simply says, “Done.”

“Orbitz notifies anybody that you’re running late, automatically,” says Martindale. The “Orbitz and Go” tagline is augmented with the Orbitz TLC mantra, “Get treated like a VIP.”

The Chicago-based online travel agency soft-launched the cell phone logo of its brand extension in January to demonstrate there are more reasons to use Orbitz than merely researching and booking travel. Orbitz has its own team of traffic controllers, weather analysts, travel journalists and security experts who monitor travel conditions and provide alerts about delays, which can be sent to as many as six people via cellular phone, PDA and e-mail.

Seven of 10 Orbitz customers receive those alerts via their mobile phones, and more than 50 million “customer care alerts” have been dispatched since 2004, per the company.

The alerts could make the Orbitz service fee—which ranges from $4.99 to $17.95 depending on carrier, destination and other factors—look like a value add compared with booking direct from travel providers.

“We’re putting people in control even when things in travel aren’t always within [their] control,” said Randy Wagner, Orbitz CMO.

Spend was not disclosed. Orbitz’ media spend in 2005 was $51 million, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.