Let’s get personal: Smart technology redefines tailor-made travel – eTurboNews.com

Smart technology is transforming the tourism industry with personalized services that suggest richer and more enjoyable experiences suited to a traveler’s individual preferences, reveals the WTM Global Trends Report 2015, in association with Euromonitor International released at World Travel Market London.

Using mobile technology and big data analytics, companies are now able to suggest interesting activities for travelers at their location, reveals the report, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary at WTM London 2015.wtm png

For example, the TripAdvisor Apple Watch app can send a push notification at lunchtime with information about the highest-rated restaurant nearby. The next step will be tailoring the service to travelers’ personal tastes.  Google Now is aiming to proactively bring consumers information before they ask, based on their past behavior, with geo-localization keeping suggestions locally relevant. The key lies in providing “context-aware information in the moment that matters”, according to Google UK Sales Director, Bernd Fauser.

OTAs such as Booking.com and Expedia, are currently working on customers’ preferences to increase booking conversions, and they will move to personalized mobile services next.  World Travel Market, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “The opportunities that smart technology offers travel companies are endless and we have only scratched the surface.  It won’t be long before personalized suggestions – created from cross-checking consumers’ preferences and current location with online inventories of local travel services and activities – will become the norm.“

Euromonitor International, Head of Travel, Caroline Bremner said: “Companies now have the possibility to collect a wealth of information about consumers that was previously unavailable to them – usually referred to as big data – and this is leading to offers of more personalized experiences.“A gradual shift to one-to-one marketing in travel will be evident, with each consumer treated in a different way in terms of the overall marketing mix including pricing.”

Mobile travel sales reached US$96 billion in 2014, accounting for 12.5% of global on-line travel sales, according to Euromonitor International. They are forecast to record a strong compound annual growth of 22% over the period 2014-2019.

Download the report

Source: Let’s get personal: Smart technology redefines tailor-made travel – eTurboNews.com

How booking APIs are changing the online travel game – Tnooz

This is a viewpoint from Sean Sewell, co-founder and EMEA business development director, Performance Horizon.

Digital travel sales are expected to surpass $481 billion worldwide this year according to eMarketer.

The set-up

We’ve already seen many interesting developments this year. Google moved beyond being a third-party traffic referer and entered the distribution space. This bold move, which allows consumers to book travel directly via its Hotel Finder, puts the search giant in direct competition with some of its biggest customers such as Hotels.com and Skyscanner.  Likewise, TripAdvisor has evolved beyond being just a travel content site and now allows consumers to read reviews and book all in one place.

Most consumers are unaware that they get this seamless experience thanks to something behind the scenes – application programming interfaces (APIs).

The solution

Specifically, it is booking APIs are changing where and how consumers book travel. Here’s how booking APIs are driving change and how all parties – such as travel brands, digital marketing partners,  publishers and consumers – benefit from an increased investment and integration of online and mobile booking APIs.  Also addressed are how travel brands and digital marketing partners are working to overcome booking API challenges.

Travel BrandsBooking APIs are not new – far from it – so why are travel brands waking up to the potential of using booking APIs to optimize conversions and maximize inventory distribution?  First and foremost. it is the rapidly shifting sands of how consumers browse and buy. Most travel brands will tell you the same thing: people research flights and hotels on their phones in the morning and book on desktops later in the day.

While mobile experiences are getting better, many brands have not fully developed a streamlined mobile booking process.  Mobile is where digital marketing partners – such as Google, TripAdvisor, metasearch and OTAs –  and booking APIs are a perfect match. These partners understand mobile, not necessarily a core competency of a travel brand whose primary focus is putting planes in the air and providing great accommodations for guests.  By making their booking APIs available to a  range of online and mobile partners, travel brands can increase market distribution and booking conversions beyond traditional partners, while stemming drop off rates by providing the most seamless customer experiences.

Digital Marketing Partners

The benefits of booking APIs work both ways. Publishers other than metas, are leveraging booking APIs to both provide their readers with better experiences and boost their own profitability as a digital marketing partner.

Today’s consumers move on quickly if they can’t easily find information or a complete a transaction. For publishers large and small, eyeballs and time on site are like physical currency. In order to reduce bounce rate, publishers must provide experiences that enable readers to complete actions from start to finish all without leaving their site.

Reader’s Digest opened up travel booking directly from its online properties. This makes sense, as publishers know their readers best. By working with travel brands who have vast amounts of data (past bookings, frequent fliers, first class vs. economy), publishers can drive conversions and increase their revenues by providing readers with the most relevant offers.

It’s not all straightforward however.  Publishers have many challenges when using booking APIs, especially around credit card transactions, security, and data ownership. Many times, brands will control everything in order to secure customer data.

Overcoming challenges

In addition to the security issue, booking APIs can come with challenges around formatting and the investment to do so.  This is one pain-point IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) hopes to address.  As booking APIs evolve and become easier to implement and use, more and more partners will work directly with brands, increasing distribution and potentially reducing the need for more traditional tracking methods via affiliate networks and pure tracking providers.  And the technology is there for brands and their digital marketing partner to connect directly and share/track data in real-time.

To summarize, I think the trend toward booking APIs that’s taken hold this year will set the stage for an exciting era in the travel vertical. Competition will increase as the lines continue to blur between meta-search engines and OTAs, and as Google aggressively expands its direct booking clients.In general, the smartest brands and digital marketing partners will leverage booking APIs to unlock continued growth and profitability.

Source: How booking APIs are changing the online travel game – Tnooz

Expedia: all the key pieces fall into place | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

expedia-logoInteresting analytical review of Expedia’s position in the marketplace by Eye for Travel…

“Has the OTA industry become a duopoly now that the US Justice Department has nodded through Expedia’s $1.3bn acquisition of Orbitz Worldwide? Certainly Wall Street has seen celebrations that only Expedia and Priceline among the monster groups are left standing. (Less research work to do!) The share prices of the two have been very upbeat since the head of the Justice Department’s Anti-Division, Bill Baer, announcement that “we concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competitors and consumers”.

Source: Expedia: all the key pieces fall into place | Travel Industry News & Conferences – EyeforTravel

Booking.com Finally Joins Major Hotel Chains in Book on TripAdvisor – Skift

Trip Advisor

“A Skift take”

Booking.com’s participation in Book on TripAdvisor is a major win for TripAdvisor, which launched its Instant Booking product a couple of years ago and was slow to get hotels, and especially big online travel agencies to join. The U.S. Justice Department was correct, during the Expedia-Orbitz merger review, to see TripAdvisor Instant Booking as an emerging player to heighten competition.

By Dennis Schaal: Skift

Source & Read more: Booking.com Finally Joins Major Hotel Chains in Book on TripAdvisor – Skift

Emergence of Google and TripAdvisor booking helps pave way for Orbitz takeover by Expedia – Travolution.co.uk

The prospect of massive online travel consolidation has been triggered after Expedia won approval from US competition authorities to take over rival Orbitz for $1.3 billion.

The US Justice Department said a six-month investigation had found no evidence that the merger would lessen options for consumers. It noted that Orbitz is a relatively small source of bookings for airlines, car rental companies and hotels. Hotwire and Hotels.com are owned by Expedia, which also purchased Travelocity in January for $280 million. That paved the way for the acquisition of Orbitz, which reported $10 billion in bookings last year for air fares and hotels. Orbitz Worldwide owns ebookers in the UK together with cheaptickets.com and hotelclub.com. Booking.com, OpenTable and Kayak are owned by Expedia’s rival Priceline.

The American Hotel and Lodging Association had argued that the merger would create a “duopoly” between Expedia and Priceline, which will now control 95% of the online travel-marketplace, a business that generates $152 billion a year, the Washington Post reported.

But Bill Baer, head of the Justice Department’s anti-trust division, said: “We know online travel booking is important to US consumers and to the airlines, car rental companies and hotels that serve those consumers.

Over the course of a six-month investigation, lawyers and economists from the antitrust division reviewed tens of thousands of business documents, analysed transactional data from the merging companies and from other industry players and interviewed over 60 industry participants of various types and sizes. “The antitrust division investigated the concerns that have been expressed about this transaction. We took those concerns seriously and factored into our analysis all of the information provided by third parties. At the end of this process, however, we concluded that the acquisition is unlikely to harm competition and consumers. “There are several reasons for this conclusion. First, we uncovered no evidence in our investigation that the merger is likely to result in new charges being imposed directly on consumers for using Expedia or Orbitz. So we focused our investigation on the commissions Expedia and Orbitz negotiate with airlines, car rental companies and hotels. “Second, we found that Orbitz is only a small source of bookings for most of these companies and thus has had no impact in recent years on the commissions Expedia charges. “Many independent hotel operators, for example, do not contract with Orbitz, and those hotels that do often obtain very few bookings from its site. In addition, beyond Expedia and Orbitz, travel service providers have alternative ways to attract customers and obtain bookings.

Source: Emergence of Google and TripAdvisor booking helps pave way for Orbitz takeover by Expedia – Travolution.co.uk

As OTAs boost spending, hotels continue online booking fight: Travel Weekly

As OTAs boost spending, hotels continue online booking fight: Travel Weekly.

Expedia logoThe world’s two largest OTAs are boosting spending on marketing while hotel lobbyists are calling for federal regulators to stop the proposed merger of two of the most popular OTAs in the U.S., reflecting a heightened battle between suppliers and intermediaries for a greater share of travel spending.

Expedia Inc. and Priceline Group each ratcheted up second-quarter marketing costs. Expedia did so as it made preparations for its pending acquisition of smaller competitor Orbitz Worldwide, a deal that is still being reviewed by the Justice Department. Orbitz also recorded higher second-quarter costs.

The Expedia-Orbitz deal has drawn fire from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA). Earlier this month, the trade group publicly opposed the $1.34 billion deal, first announced in February, citing factors such as a narrowing choice of booking channels, higher costs for smaller hotel chains and the higher probability of deceptive practices from “rogue” OTAs.

A combined Expedia-Orbitz would control almost three-quarters of the U.S. online market, while the AH&LA estimated that Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline combines account for more than 95% of the OTA market.

Meanwhile, some hoteliers are drawing their own fire for their efforts to secure more bookings through direct channels.

Marriott International earlier this month launched a marketing campaign promoting Marriott’s website as having the best rates on the hotelier’s rooms. Ads concluded with the tagline “It pays to book direct.”

While that effort was likely geared to pull prospective guests away from OTAs, ASTA last week termed the language “misleading” and called for the hotelier to discontinue the campaign “immediately.”

Suppliers and their channels continue to battle over their respective shares of the U.S. online hotel sector, where annual spending is predicted to jump 55% between 2012 and 2016, to $58.1 billion, according to a Phocuswright report released in November. OTAs have been gradually pulling some of that spending away from hoteliers’ websites. Last year, OTAs accounted for 48% of online hotel spending in the U.S., up from 46% in 2012.

Hoteliers fear that a combined Expedia and Orbitz will result in a further loss of booking dollars.

“We believe this transaction and the resulting consolidation of the online travel marketplace will result in significant negative consequences, particularly for consumers, but also for the large number of our members who are small business owners and franchised properties,” AH&LA CEO Katherine Lugar wrote in an Aug. 6 statement.

Meanwhile, Priceline and Expedia continue to ramp up spending in their competition with each other, and those higher expenses were reflected in both companies’ second-quarter financial results.

Expedia’s second-quarter selling and marketing costs jumped 19% from a year earlier, while general and administrative expenses surged 38%. The company, which in May sold its 62.5% stake in China-based OTA eLong, also reported that gross bookings excluding eLong rose 20% to $15.1 billion, while room-night growth excluding eLong rose 35%.

Net income quadrupled from a year earlier, to $449.6 million, though that increase was largely the result of its $508.8 million gain on the eLong sales. Revenue increased 11%, to $1.66 billion.

Priceline’s online advertising spend rose 21%, while sales and marketing costs were up 26%, outpacing the company’s 7.4% revenue growth to $2.09 billion. Gross bookings advanced 11%, to $15 billion, with international bookings rising 30% while U.S. bookings remained flat.

Orbitz took a $4.25 million loss, compared with year-earlier net income of $6.88 million. Revenue fell 3.4%, to $239.6 million. The cost of revenue surged 34%, largely as a result of higher costs related to implementing systems to stem fraudulent transactions. Gross bookings fell 8%, to $3.09 billion, as standalone air and vacation-package revenue were both down 14%.

Financial analysts appeared to be unconcerned about Expedia’s higher spending, noting that it was appropriate for a company whose recent acquisitions included Travelocity and Australia-based Wotif.

In an Aug. 9 note to clients, Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley wrote, “We see a long runway for the company to continue to improve its operations across its legacy assets and acquired businesses, with better website conversion, increased hotel supply, deeper penetration of existing hotel partners and improved marketing optimization.” Walmsley maintained his “buy” rating on the stock.

And while Guggenheim Partners analyst Jake Fuller in an Aug. 6 note to clients classified Orbitz’s second-quarter performance as “weak,” he maintained that many of the challenges were short term and typical for a company on the verge of being acquired. He added that the recent performance of Travelocity could hint at a better future for Orbitz, as well.

“We note that Travelocity appears to be ramping revenue post acquisition as it benefits from a higher converting platform, access to more hotel inventory and better marketing support,” Fuller wrote. “A weak performance [by Orbitz] probably does not change the prospects for the deal.”


The Week in Travel Stats: Learn Where Your Clients Could Be Headed Next | Travel Agent Central

The Week in Travel Stats: Learn Where Your Clients Could Be Headed Next | Travel Agent Central.

From last-minute summer road trips to a look at which destinations are trending right now, the week in travel stats provided a good glimpse into what’s hot in travel for the rest of the year.

U.S., Spain Top Most-Searched Destinations in Q2

This week travel marketing platform Sojern released a look at the most-searched destinations of the second quarter of 2015, an indicator of where travelers are looking to book at the moment.

The United States and Spain were the most-searched destinations, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Portugal, Turkey, Greece and Russia. The latter re-entered the list after a quarter’s hiatus, replacing Thailand.




Beyond the top 10, here are the destinations that captured the most traveler interest by region since summer 2014:

In North America, Haiti moved up 34 ranks since summer 2014, after experiencing a dramatic decline in tourism in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, followed by Iceland, up 11 spots.

For travelers from Western Europe, Cuba pushed up 12 places to position 41, thanks to a lot of media attention and the detente with the U.S. Czech Republic, Iceland and Romania each moved seven places up in the ranking.

In Latin America, Aruba’s appeal increased over last year, pushing it up 11 spots, followed, by Hungary, up 10 spots. The latter is one of the more affordable European destinations, as a non-Eurozone country.

In Southeast Asia, Bangladesh moved up eight spots and Qatar seven since summer 2014.

For travelers from the Middle East, Sudan gained the most popularity (up 24 spots), followed closely by Bosnia and Herzegovina (21 spots), a country which the World Tourism Organization estimates will have the third highest tourism growth rate in the world by 2020.

Read more

Top Restaurants for Last-Minute Summer Road Trips

Even as we head into August, clients could still be looking to take one last summer road trip. OpenTable has released its 2015 Summer Road Trip Restaurant Guide highlighting top eateries for your clients to visit.







Compiled by OpenTable insiders across the nation, the guide highlights culinary destinations along some of the country’s most popular road trip routes.

The OpenTable 2015 Summer Road Trip Restaurant Guide includes more than 100 restaurants, from Grace in Portland, Maine, to Meriwether’s Restaurant & Skyline Farm in Portland, Oregon. OpenTable’s regional teams around the United States curated the guide.

Source: OpenTable

1 in 4 Business Travelers Can’t Use Ride Share Services

This week also saw a flurry of research into the world of business travel from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) Convention 2015.

As part of a panel discussion at the event, the GBTA Foundation released a new report on the future of ground transportation in the sharing economy. Key takeaway: With one in four business travelers barred from using new ride share services, rental cars and taxis remain the most commonly used methods of ground transportation among business travelers.


“Our research shows one in four (24 percent) travel buyers say their company does not allow their business travelers to use ride-sharing companies, by far the highest percentage for any form of ground transportation,” said GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick. “In addition, a large number of companies still have not adopted policies around ride-sharing companies, revealing a need for education about the benefits and the risks. GBTA hopes this study is the start to closing that knowledge gap and we welcome an open and constructive dialogue on this topic.”

Read more

Business Travel Spending to Hit Record High of $1.25 Trillion in 2015

Another report from the GBTA Convention brought some good news for business travel. Driven by a surge in China, business travel spending is expected to hit a record high of $1.25 trillion in 2015.


Despite recent economic turbulence, China business travel will increase by 61 percent over the next five years, from $261 billion in 2014 to $420 billion in 2019. That increase is greater than the increases in business travel growth in the next 8 largest countries combined, including the U.S., Germany, India, U.K., Indonesia, France, Turkey and Japan.

“Despite recent economic speedbumps, China will pull away as the global leader in business travel over the next five years,” said McCormick. “On the horizon, we’ve identified five nations that are also seeing extraordinary growth and could very well turn into the business travel markets of the future. Another market to watch is India, which is statistically where China was 15 years ago.”

China DIY travel site Directons smashes crowdinvesting goal

Premium DIY travel site for Chinese going overseas smashes equity crowdfunding goal,  Paul Bischoff

Up until a few years ago, most travellers from China were relegated to group tours – packed onto planes and buses with at least a dozen other tourists, led around on a strict schedule by a guide with a flag and loudspeaker.

But China’s younger generations, with their growing incomes and fewer travel restrictions, are quickly shifting to DIY travel, which offers more flexibility and freedom than group tours. As a result, a huge wave of startups have cropped up to serve their needs. Now the highly-fragmented market is nearing its saturation point.

“It is true that China’s DIY market is already very hot and is trending towards over-saturation,” says Robin Shao, CEO and founder of Directions Travel. “But we believe that this is more of a ‘quantity’ over-saturation, rather than a ‘quality’ saturation. There are a lot of companies out there doing this, but they are not necessarily meeting the needs of consumers.”

Directions has two core competitive strengths, Shao says. The first is that the start-up reaches out to people who have unique experiences and hobbyists in certain fields to introduce unique attractions, restaurants, and accommodation. “We source our trip ideas from individuals who have on the ground experience,” he explains. “On our site, users can learn about these people and their background to pick out the one that best matches their interests.”

Secondly, Directions uses these human resources to cater to customers who want unique experiences. “Though the independent travel market is hot, there are very few companies that are willing to put in the effort to create products that meet specific needs,” Shao says.

But what constitutes a “unique” experience is rather subjective, and Directions doesn’t seem to tackle the most empirical deciding factor for most travellers: cost. Whether the promise of quality can outweigh customers’ budget concerns in this highly competitive market will be critical to the startup’s success.

The company focuses on mid- to high-end customers travelling overseas. Some of Directions’ destinations include the US, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Latin America. Competing travel sites include Lvmama, LY.com, ByeCity, Ctrip, Qunar, Aoliday, Woqu, Tuniu, and many, many more.

An invested crowd

Directions was chosen as one of the 11 inaugural startups to raise funding through ecommerce site JD’s new equity crowdfunding platform. In equity crowdfunding, backers actually take a slice of equity in the company they support in contrast to the rewards-based Kickstarter model. The crowdinvesting site just launched earlier this week, and Directions has already doubled its RMB 2.5 million (US$403,000) goal, surpassing it within the first 24 hours.

“We believed that it would be a fast, efficient way to raise money,” Shao says. “For an early startup, the first fund is the most important one, but you cannot spend too much time raising it or you might run out of money before you make it.”

Venture capital is no longer the exclusive right of big organizations, Shao says. The equity crowdfunding model also helps attract early supporters. ” If they are willing to invest some funds into us, then they will certainly be willing to help us promote and improve our products.”

On top of that, it also just announced an RMB 1.5 million (US$242,000) seed investment from Gobi VC. Gobi’s Shanghai-based venture partner Michael Zhu says the firm is enthusiastic about the equity crowdfunding model. “As an early stage VC, Gobi believes that the industry should embrace this type of innovative crowdfunding model. It empowers society, it helps startups grow and improves transparency within the VC industry.”

Gobi also invested in another startup that successfully raised funds on JD, spicy seafood delivery company Jacky’s Shrimp. Zhu says the exposure a startup gets through this sort of platform is a huge bonus.

“Usually, a seed stage investment may experience difficulty in getting the word out, especially with how active China’s early stage investment scene is these days. It really builds momentum,” he says. “We are also able to raise more money for the company than we would normally be able to at this stage of growth.”

Zhu says the the results exceeded his expectations as both companies surpassed their investment goals by over 150 percent in under 24 hours, each with a couple months remaining.

Directions will put the fresh funds toward new products, optimizing existing products, and conducting on-the-ground inspections of its trip packages. It will also spend some cash on improving its IT system and on marketing.

Editing by Malavika Velayanikal

via China DIY travel site Directons smashes crowdinvesting goal.

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool

You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline)  Steve Symington

With the advent of online travel sites, it’s never been easier to book a quick vacation, business trip, or even a spontaneous jaunt for almost anywhere in the world. Though the online travel industry is relatively young, it’s still growing quickly, with dozens of viable sites ready to make your trip happen.

The sites with the most loyal customers stand to grab the biggest share of this market as Internet usage increases around the world. But maintaining customer loyalty is even more challenging in markets like the United States, where online travel is becoming second nature as nearly 90% of the population is already online.

Thanks to online travel sites, resorts like this are just a click away.

This of course begs the question, which travel site are Americans the most loyal to?

Thanks to prominent advertising campaigns, several incorrect names might immediately come to mind. Take the various sites operated by Priceline Group (NASDAQ: PCLN), for example, which notably include priceline.com, KAYAK, booking.com, rentalcars.com, and — thanks to a $2.6 billion acquisition last year — even restaurant reservations specialist OpenTable. Since it was founded in 1997, Priceline has enjoyed the charisma of spokesman William Shatner talking up its negotiating skills, while KAYAK earns business by comparing the prices of “hundreds” of travel sites at once.

Collectively, these businesses helped Priceline Group achieve $50.3 billion in total gross bookings last year alone. And with a market capitalization higher than $61 billion as of this writing, it’s no surprise Priceline regularly calls itself the “world leader in online accommodation reservations.” But “world leader” or not, none of Priceline’s sites are tops in customer loyalty.

Or how about Hotwire? Specific financial details are scarce for the privately held site, but Hotwire earns customers by selling off unsold travel inventory at a huge discount, saving people planeloads of cash on all their travel needs from airfare to hotels, rental cars, and comprehensive travel packages.

Unfortunately, though, even Hotwire’s approach doesn’t translate to the most loyal users. It’s not Expedia (NASDAQ: EXPE), either — though we’re getting closer.

Travelocity’s roaming gnome, Credit: Travelocity

Love for the Roaming Gnome

According to the 19th annual Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, American consumers are most loyal to a travel site acquired by Expedia less than two months ago: Travelocity.com. On January 23, 2015, Expedia paid $280 million in cash to buy Travelocity from travel-technology specialist Sabre (NASDAQ: SABR), which itself was a subsidiary of American Airlines until being spun off in 2000.

According to Brand Keys president Robert Passikoff, 2015 was Travelocity’s first year atop its category in loyalty. And this year’s results were driven by the brands’ abilities to “identify customers’ expectations and address them via authentic emotional values.”  So why do Americans specifically love Travelocity so much?

A little focus goes a long way

First, keep in mind that Travelocity signed a strategic marketing agreement with Expedia in mid-2013. Per the terms of that deal, Expedia agreed to take the reins of the technology platform powering Travelocity’s U.S. and Canadian websites. In exchange, Expedia received performance-based marketing fees that varied based on the amount of travel booked through those Travelocity-branded sites.

Travelocity’s #IWannaGo campaign was wildly successful, Credit: Travelocity.

While this meant less revenue for Travelocity at the time, it also greatly improved the site’s profitability by drastically lowering operating costs. In its most recently reported quarter as part of Sabre, for instance, Travelocity’s adjusted revenue fell nearly 45% year over year, to $89 million, while adjusted EBITDA skyrocketed 116% to $16 million. Without the need to focus on maintaining its technology platform, Travelocity was free to redirect those resources toward promoting its brand — something it arguably did more effectively than any of its deep-pocketed rivals, anyway.

Take Travelocity’s “Roaming Gnome” mascot, for example, whose offbeat TV spots have been at the heart of its viral advertising efforts for more than a decade. But starting in 2013, Travelocity also began using the gnome to engage consumers on a personal level with a wildly successful social media campaign centered around the hashtag #IWannaGo.

By following the @roaminggnome handle on Twitter or Instagram, then using the hashtag to tell Travelocity where you wanted to go, you were automatically entered to win a chance to make your travel dreams come true. Then. last year, Travelocity built on that momentum by combining the hashtag with its new “Go & Smell the Roses” tag line.

According to Travelocity chief marketing officer Bradley Wilson: “‘Go & Smell the Roses’ is more than a tag line in an advertising campaign, it’s a rally cry. […] We are using our most powerful asset, the iconic Roaming Gnome, to inspire and instigate people to get off the couch, to go and smell the roses.”

If Brand Keys’ latest Loyalty Index is any indication, Travelocity’s efforts to connect to customers on an emotional level are obviously proving effective in its core American market. If it can translate that good work under Expedia’s wing to inspire people around the world, something tells me Expedia’s $280 million purchase price will look brilliant in the end.

via You’ll Never Guess Which Travel Site Americans Are Most Loyal To (Hint: It’s Not Priceline) | The Motley Fool.