The Philadelphia-based travel agency bought Biztravel.com (www.biztravel.com) in August and formed a new subsidiary, Rosenbluth Interactive. Biztravel was an independent company with investors including Comcast Corp., News Corp., Informix Corp. and Intel Corp. Rosenbluth was founded in 1892 to sell steamship tickets and now has annual sales in excess of $4 billion.
COMPETING FOR CONSUMERS
The interactive division is putting the finishing touches on another site, Travelution (www.travelution.com), to compete with more consumer-focused sites, such as Sabre-backed Travelocity and Expedia, the site Microsoft Corp. partially spun off recently.
Travelution, live but in beta test, is scheduled to formally launch in March.
Biztravel will be redesigned by the company and JWT and relaunch within the next few weeks.
Rosenbluth's two Web sites each have distinct missions. For Biztravel, the plan is to capitalize on Rosenbluth's extensive experience with business travel, although for smaller corporate clients. For Travelution, JWT and the company will tap the experience of Rosenbluth employees to provide a high level of customer service and personalization for vacationers.
President-CEO Hal Rosenbluth wrote a book called "The Customer Comes Second and Other Secrets of Exceptional Service," meaning his employees come first. Mr. Rosenbluth, great-grandson of founder Marcus Rosenbluth, theorizes that if his employees are happy, they then will make customers happy.
Both sites tap the rapidly growing $4 billion online travel industry. Online sales are expected to jump to $17 billion and account for 10% of all travel purchases by 2003, according to Jupiter Communications.
"The Internet business-travel category-strictly speaking-does not exist yet, with the [existing] travel sites having both business and consumer services," said Scott Garrett, JWT director in charge. "I think Biztravel will define that. . . . Travelution is a pure leisure-travel site. We'll position Travelution as the purveyor of good, honest information of everything travel."
SERVING SMALLER CLIENTS
For larger companies, Rosenbluth usually puts two or three agents at those companies to handle travel arrangements. With Biztravel, which Rosenbluth bought to help it cater to businesses with fewer than 100 people, smaller companies will have 24-hour phone and online access to customer service.
Mr. Garrett said JWT's first ad creative for Travelution will bow at the same time as the Web site launches. The campaign will include print and online, and possibly TV.
JWT has also begun to consult for Rosenbluth International on its overall brand communications and may handle some corporate work as well as the individual Web sites.