Thinking outside the box is nothing new to Travelocity.
In 2012 our brand marketing team spearheaded the Great Gnome Nabbing, the first major campaign I was involved in after arriving at the online travel agency. Partnering with award-winning CBS reality show The Amazing Race and our creative agency, McKinney, we found a way to bridge the back-story of our beloved brand icon, The Roaming Gnome, with a progressive push into social media. This was, at that time, the perfect way to remind consumers how our brand and the icon were connected.
Building on that innovation, we’re now using that same creative thinking to help consumers more easily “Go and Smell the Roses” by better understanding the benefits and structure of Travelocity.com’s “package” booking —or a single itinerary that can combine a hotel, flight, and car.
Though our website fully promotes this option, our focus group research showed that customers were unclear on both the flexibility of these packages and the amount of choice offered to them. Plus, according to an analysis of our data from the first half of 2014, customers who book using packages can save up to $537 versus customers who book each component separately.
To help us effectively communicate these benefits, we decided to go beyond the inherent limitations of our traditional 15- and 30-second commercial spots and focus on using an extended-length, 15-minute TV commercial. We believe these demonstrations will help us more deftly and intricately explain the simplicity—and deep savings—of booking a package. And, we’re hoping to encourage consumer transactions with an included direct response discount, something that hasn’t been a key part of Travelocity’s brand advertising in the past.
Circling back to our long-time sponsor The Amazing Race, we will be incorporating father-son duo Dave and Connor O’Leary, season 24 winners of the popular reality show, to add a level of knowledge and credibility to the spot. Dave and Connor, who are experienced, real-life travelers—and regularly use and prefer Travelocity to book their expeditions—will embody validity while conveying a simple message of saving. They’ll also be sharing their most recent trips with on-air friends. And when asked how they can help their pals follow in their adventurous footsteps, they’ll explain how booking package deals on Travelocity is their “best travel secret.”
Each 15-minute spot will run back-to-back on networks such as HGTV, Travel Channel, E! Network, Bravo, Discovery, and several others. These long-form commercials will run 150 times over six weeks starting April 13.
While conversions are, of course, the primary goal of these advertising efforts—it’s equally important to gain meaningful consumer insights for both our customers and supplier partners. All of our marketing efforts, including this one, are built to allow us to build on our test-and-learn philosophy. For example, we plan on learning which placements were most effective in driving traffic, what the impact is on brand recognition, and whether we see an increase in consumer understanding of vacation packages.
Though we realize that there have been few instances of similar, but shorter, spots in our space—mainly because of the fear of a high pressure, “buy now” message—we focused on making this fun, credible, and most important, informational. We aren’t here to necessarily emphasize our excellence; we’re here to help our customers save time and money as they book their next vacation.
About the Author
Brad Wilson is VP of marketing and GM at Travelocity. Having spent his career building some of the most recognizable online brands, Wilson has made an indelible mark at Travelocity by driving initiatives that include improved advertising and promotional activities, accelerated direct Web traffic, and upgraded CRM operations. Brad and his team have consistently improved core operations and key performance measures—including record hotel sales in 2013.