Manuevers Against Rivals With Best-Price Guarantee Strategy

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Online travel agent Expedia.com launches a national branding campaign this morning that ups the ante on its competitors: a best-price guarantee that offers consumers a $50 coupon for future travel if they find a better price elsewhere.
Expedia, which competes against Orbitz and Travelocity as well as airlines and hotel sites, is offering to meet and better any price on a variety of travel expenses.

The Bellevue, Wash., company said the best-price guarantee was part of three new consumer-centric initiatives, which include "Your Personal Trip Guide" and the "Expedia Promise."

New slogan
Interpublic Group of Cos.’ Deutsch will handle the campaign, which includes TV, print and online components. All ads will feature the company’s new slogan, “Enjoy your trip.” Details of spend on the campaign are unknown. Expedia spent $90 million in 2005 on measured media, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

“We believe these new initiatives will give customers even more compelling reasons to book travel with us,” Steven McArthur, president, North America Leisure Travel Group at Expedia, said in a statement.

Throwing down the gauntlet
Expedia, now in its 10th year, knocks heads not only with online competitors Orbitz and Travelocity, but with airlines and hotels as well.

The best-price guarantee is an online challenge thrown down by Expedia. If a customer finds a lower price online for the same trip -- whether that’s airfare, hotel, vacation package, car rental, cruise or destination activity or service -- within 24 hours of booking at Expedia.com, Expedia will reimburse the difference and give the customer a $50 coupon for future travel.

Customer centricity
“This is the best and most comprehensive offering available anywhere in online travel,” Sally McKenzie, senior VP-merchandising and retail operations at Expedia, said in a statement. “We are committed to giving our customers unparalleled travel selection, value and service. Customers making their travel plans through Expedia will now have even greater confidence that they are obtaining the best fares and room rates available -- all backed by a new guarantee.”

Connecticut-based PhoCusWright, a travel-research company, estimated that online bookings approached 30% of the U.S. travel market in 2005 for a value of $65.4 billion. Expedia is the market leader, followed by Orbitz, Travelocity and Priceline.

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