As states begin to lift lockdowns from the pandemic, Hotels.com is dipping back into messaging around travel. The Dallas, Texas-based brand is pushing a new 30-second spot that urges consumers to get back out there and book some vacations.
In the commercial, Captain Obvious, who has been the brand’s spokesman since 2014, asks dreamy customers if they “remember places.” He says, “The good news is, these places still exist. With hundreds of thousands of not-your-house places all over the world, Hotels.com is the best place to book a place.” The video calls out several specific sites, like a Napa Valley B&B, which “has wine that’s not in a box,” and a Miami Beach Resort, which “has free toilet paper.”
The spot is a departure from the recent marketing Hotels.com was doing during the pandemic, in which Captain Obvious encouraged consumers to stay home. In March, the brand abandoned its then-campaign, which was around traveling away from home, to focus on safety.
“As we get to summer, people absolutely want to travel again,” says Josh Belkin, global brand VP. “What’s exciting is the fact of planning travel, booking travel, it generally makes people happier.”
He notes that while Hotels.com is not spending the same amount on marketing that it normally would, it’s still running advertising.
“We are certainly looking to get our message out over the summer in a cautious way as demand does come back,” says Belkin. “I don’t think you’ll see us necessarily spending what we do in a normal time, but it’s important to be out there.”
Hotels.com worked on the commercial with CPB, which created the Captain Obvious character. Mediacom handled media duties. Belkin noted that keeping with Hotels.com’s typical humorous tone was important in creating the current campaign—he says the brief asked for no somber piano music or use of the phrase “these unprecedented times.”
Some consumers are becoming more comfortable with travel, but at a local level. According to a recent survey by consumer intelligence firm Resonate, 52 percent of consumers say they will feel safe traveling within their state when restrictions are removed, compared with 37 percent who feel comfortable traveling to another state and 11 percent who feel comfortable traveling internationally. However, the survey found that nearly half of consumers don’t expect their leisure travel to return to normal until at least 2021.