James Caan pitches for Canada's travelbyus.com

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VANCOUVER, B.C.--Internet travel agency travelbyus.com this month launches itsfirst major U.S. national push featuring veteran actor James Caan as itsnew celebrity spokesman.

Efforts featuring the site's address and the phone number (1-800-i-TRAVEL)will roll out gradually, starting by the end of January, and using nationaloutdoor, radio, TV and newspapers.

The campaign's budget wasn't disclosed, but Vancouver-based travelbyusdescribes the campaign as a multimillion-dollar undertaking that will befunded with a portion of $20 million in funding raised in December.

"We're after the value segment of the U.S. travel market," said Peter Adam,the company's VP-investor relations.

"Baby boomers represent the front end of the [travel] buying wave," saidMr. Adam. "This is an audience and a target that we know relates quitestrongly to James Caan."

Handling the campaign is Gotham Media Group, Portland, Ore.

Included in the ad and PR campaign is travelbyus-owned "The TravelMagazine," a TV show that airs on specialty cable channels in 26 countries.Starting this year, Mr. Caan will introduce the show, which will displaythe travelbyus Web address and the toll-free number.

Travelbyus believes Internet-savvy travelers want more than the onlinesites and services offered by individual airlines or hotel operators.

"Consumers are leaving the supplier sites for online travel agencies thatoffer comparison shopping and rich content," said Mr. Adam.

With its Web site and service expected to fully launch in February,travelbyus is still recruiting traditional travel agencies for its nationalalliance. Travelbyus will handle initial Web or phone contact withtravelers, then pass them along to an associated agency close to thecustomer to complete the travel arrangements.

Roughly 1,100 agencies are signed up now, but travelbuys hopes to see thatnumber soon grow to its target of 5,000. Agencies would each pay a $500monthly fee for marketing, which would give the company $30 million a yearfor its advertising and promotions, if the travelbyus alliance reaches itstargeted size.

Handling media relations for travelbyus.com is Barry Kaplan Associates,Fair Haven, N.J.

Copyright January 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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