Choice Hotels International in March unveiled the first iPhone app from a major hotel company, called Choice Hotels Locator. The free app, which has been downloaded more than 225,000 times and in 73 countries, lets users book rooms from the road by employing the iPhone's built-in global positioning system technology to automatically generate a list of Choice properties in a user's vicinity. Users also can search manually by inputting addresses or cities.

Each individual property has its own page on the app, with limited property images and a rundown of amenities, along with standard room rates. Rooms can be booked directly via the app in the same way they would be online. As an added bonus, the app provides point-to-point directions and a look at street-view images to make finding the hotel that much easier. Users also are able to view existing reservations, as well as access their Choice Privileges account information.

Within 45 days after launching, the app was generating about 10% of Choice's total mobile revenue, says Chris Brya, director of user experience and e-commerce projects.

As one of the first hotel apps for the iPhone, Apple listed the Choice app under the Featured section of its App Store. "We wanted to expose the brands to other people that maybe weren't familiar with us," Brya says. "The buzz factor was icing on the cake, with people talking about it."

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