This morning Orbitz rolled out a new home page - gone are the jarring deep blues and oranges of the old site. Many of the changes are subtle but overall, it has a much cleaner look and feel. The site has also gained some heft with a new wider display - all the rage these days.
Most surprising is the total removal of the Orbitz TLC branding. TLC has been at the heart of the Orbitz brand for years and has been featured in all kinds of commercials and goodness knows how many airline in-flight magazines (no doubt where it was often viewed by someone who was on delayed flight that didn't book with Orbitz!)
We actually viewed TLC as a differentiator in the otherwise commoditized airline ticketing space - something that Orbitz had that even the airlines themselves couldn't match. But with Orbitz pushing hard on hotels, maybe it was decided that TLC needed to take a back seat. TLC isn't even listed under "Why book on Orbitz" on the home page. (TLC is still there, just reached from a rather boring link titled "Traveler Update")
Speaking of hotels, Orbitz is also taking an interesting approach with the chain hotels with direct link-offs to branded landing pages right off the home page - the first we've seen such prominent placement of Marriott, Starwood and the like on an OTA home page.
We also just noticed that hotel search results also have a new "sponsored listing" area at the top of each sort. Similar to Expedia's Google-esq listings, clicking on this advertisement brings you to a landing page for the specific hotel. Oddly, clicking on the ad brings you to a different landing page than clicking on the hotel in the regular sort order.
But what about that (new?) interstitial page between clicking on a hotel and getting to the booking page? Hmmmmm