Orbitz and Monster.com began a pilot program in which some Hotmail users search for hotels or jobs, respectively, from within Hotmail emails.
LinkedIn and Netflix are slated to join the pilot soon, Microsoft says.
For Hotmail users who receive these emails from Orbitz, they will be able to conduct hotel searches from within the email and would only need to click over to Orbitz.com to complete the booking.
The new feature uses Hotmail Active Views, which enables travel marketers to turn their emails into mini-websites.
Jeanenne Tornatore, a senior travel editor at Orbitz Worldwide, blogged about the new feature here.
And, the following is a Hotmail YouTube video about the new functionality being piloted:
Orbitz Worldwide spokesman Brian Hoyt explains that "more relevancy for consumers hopefully equates to higher conversions."
Susan Black, executive vice president, global eCommerce, for American Express Vacations, thinks Orbitz's use of Hotmail Active Views may be a clever move and bring increased conversions as it saves steps for the consumer and gets the user to the booking much faster.
"This is indeed very exciting, and could be a game-changer for email in general and for Hotmail in particular," says Black of Microsoft's email service.
"For years one of the challenges of email as a marketing channel is the inability of users to transact right within the message itself," Black says. "Also, with changing prices, email is seen as static, whereas booking engines on websites are dynamic. This may marry the two effectively."
But, Black cautions that Orbitz and other marketers will have to do the kind of heavy lifting on merchandising within emails that sometimes gets greater attention on website landing pages.
"Marketers must be careful to do the proper merchandising of the offers upfront, as a quick path from email offer to the booking engine cuts out valuable merchandising opportunities," Black says. "A website, after all, is a store and not just a cash register."
However, Black adds that merchandising and upselling from within emails will be most critical for complex transactions such as packages.