Hampton sponsors USA Today travel app

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USA Today has released an iPhone application aimed at travelers. The AutoPilot app includes travel content and booking tools.

USA Today has partnered with various hotel groups since its launch. The newspaper already has a news application for the iPhone, so combining travel and mobile was a natural evolution for the brand, said Matt Jones, VP of mobile strategy and operations for Gannett Digital.

"We've had a tremendous amount of success with our news application, and we were looking for new opportunities in mobile," Jones explained.

The application, designed in the style of the print newspaper, includes a flight-tracker tool, weather updates and a phone directory for airline, hotel and car rental companies.

The goal of the app is for both acquisition and retention, said Jones. "We've seen that we've gained new customers with our news application," he said. "But we'd also like to connect with the business travelers that already have a connection to the brand."

The application is sponsored by Hampton Hotels. Hampton was excited for the chance to connect digitally with its customers.

"As a company that has tremendous relationships in the travel space, we started talking to our partners and Hampton jumped at the opportunity," added Jones.

The app features customized Hampton integrations, including the ability to map locations and book reservations at Hampton properties. "We wanted to bring rich capabilities into the Hampton app, so that it wasn't just about banners," said Jones.

Mercury Intermedia, a mobile marketing technology company based in Brentwood, TN, designed the app. It also designed the USA Today news application, which launched in January, as well as game apps, including a crossword puzzle application.

If AutoPilot application does well, it will be extended to the Google Android phone. USA Today also has a WAP site that is optimized for most smartphone browsers. l

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