Travelocity voyage puts the consumer in charge

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Travelocity.com has launched a $50 million campaign to position its new, larger self as the place to take control of your excursions.

A TV spot, the company's first trip to TV, features a grandfather who journeys to see his new grandson for the first time. Travel-ocity allows him to decide details of his trip, such as a window seat, morning flight and full-size car.

Print takes a similar tack, showing a man bounding in the weeds near a beach. His ideal vacation includes an open return airline ticket, hotel with an ocean view and a rented red convertible.

"Control is the lynchpin of our marketing strategy," said Michael Stacy, senior VP-consumer marketing for Travelocity.

MOST-TRAFFICKED SITE

The campaign from the Richards Group, Dallas, also includes radio and portrays Travel-ocity as the site with listings of 45,000 hotels, 700 airlines and 50 car rental companies.

Travelocity, publicly traded but majority owned by American Airlines reservations service spinoff Sabre, bought competitor Preview Travel in March. Travelocity bills itself as the most-trafficked travel site on the Web with combined traffic of more than 8 million visitors in February, according to Media Metrix. Expedia.com, controlled by Microsoft Corp., had 5.3 million unique visitors. By itself, Travelocity posted 5.1 million.

Besides Expedia, Travelocity faces a challenge from T2, the yet-to-be-named soon-to-be-launched site for 27 airlines. Lead airlines include Delta, Continental, Northwest and United. That site -- sometimes referred to as Travelocity Terminator -- is expected to launch with a $50 million campaign from TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York.

"There's certainly the possibility that they'll be a formidable competitor, but it won't alter our marketing initiatives," Mr. Stacy said.

Travelocity and Preview Travel had a combined loss of $49.8 million on revenue of $90.9 million last year. Travelocity spent $16.5 million on ads last year; this year's $50 million budget is considerable in the travel category, but pales in comparison to $100 million-plus efforts financial Web sites have launched, noted Jupiter Communications analyst Patrick Keane. "Fifty million used be a pretty big number in terms of ad spending, but it no longer is," he said.

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