Travelocity.com, Fort Worth, TX, yesterday completed a merger with Preview Travel Inc., San Francisco.
Under the terms of the agreement, Sabre Holdings Corp., also of Fort Worth, which until recently owned and operated Travelocity.com, will retain 70 percent ownership of the new business — Travelocity.com Inc. — and the remaining 30 percent will be publicly held. Preview Travel shares will convert 1-to-1 into shares for the new company.
Travelocity.com becomes the third-largest e-commerce site as a result of the merger based on reach and unique visitors — following Amazon.com and eBay. Travelocity.com garnered 9.6 percent reach and a combined 6.5 million unique visitors in January, according to a Web audience ratings report conducted by Media Metrix Inc.
Travelocity.com is the Internet’s largest travel site — 50 percent larger than its nearest competitor, Expedia.com — based on gross sales. Combined membership for Travelocity.com and Preview Travel is more than 17 million, and combined gross sales totaled $1.2 billion in 1999.
Integration of the sites to create the new Travelocity.com began in November and is expected to be completed by third quarter.
As part of this process, the following new features have recently been incorporated into the Travelocity.com site:
o Dream Maps, which enable members of Travelcoity.com to enter a preferred dollar amount for airfare and view an interactive map of the United States indicating where they can travel based on that amount.
o Preview Travel’s vacation and cruise finder tool, a mountain resort guide with interactive maps displaying the lowest airfares to resorts throughout the United States and Canada, and a wide variety of vacation and cruise deals are now available through Travelocity.com.
o Travelocity.com members now can view 360 degree photos of cabins and amenities on cruise ships and virtually visit vacation spots.
Travelocity.com will continue to build upon its strategic alliances with major Internet and media companies including America Online Inc., Yahoo, Lycos, Go Network, [email protected] and Time Warner Inc. Road Runner.
In addition, a new five-year agreement with AOL is planned for early next month — where Travelocity.com will be the exclusive reservations engine for all travel-related services within AOL service, AOL.COM, AOL Digital City and Netscape Netcenter.
Both the Travelocity.com and Preview Travel sites will remain fully operational until site integration is complete, allowing members to plan and book travel from both sites during this process.
The new company is headquartered in Fort Worth, with offices in San Francisco and New York, and customer service centers in San Antonio, TX, San Francisco and Sacramento, CA. Terrell B. Jones is the president/CEO of the new company.
To promote the company and the merger, Mike Stacy, senior vice president of consumer marketing at Travelocity.com, said the company will launch several online and offline direct marketing campaigns this quarter. The campaign will target Travelocity.com’s 17 million current opt-in customers.
Radio spots and cable television spots in the top-wired markets highlighting Travelocity.com’s features were launched on March 6. The ads will begin to run in regular rotation starting April 1.
“We at Travelocity.com recognize that there is a tremendous growth going on in our business right now,” said Stacy. “But right now, while the travel market is a $220 billion market, 73 percent is still agency-direct. So, there is a huge market out there that we still don’t have our name out there in front of, so that’s really what we are trying to accomplish with the TV spots.”
The Richards Group, Dallas, is Travelocity.com’s agency of record and is preparing both offline and online campaigns.