Expedia Demonstrate The Power of Agile, Responsive Marketing

By Chelsea Varney, Published April 27, 2014

Controlling your own customer experience has never been more important.

Walking into a supermarket you will often see consumers choosing to scan their own groceries or even ordering produce directly to their door.

It’s all about being independent and the extensive array of online tools has made it exceedingly easy.

Customers are now more aware of what they want and are able to cut out the seemingly now trivial ‘middle man’ of the sales advisor.

The travel industry has been shaken up pretty roughly by this transition.

No longer needing to rely upon professionals to book their holidays, travelers are purchasing their own getaways by using comparison and customization platforms.

Indeed, a One Poll survey found that 62% of those questioned believed that Travel Agents was a dying business.

Price (75%) was the highest ranking factor that affected their decision making process, meaning travel agents are having to work much harder to generate business.

But, how can travel brands stop themselves slipping into the industry abyss?

Adapt

There has been a steady rise in the amount of people choosing to travel, with over one billion people (globally) vacationing each year.

big-bucks

This increase in global travelers has been in part facilitated with changDing ways that people arrange their travel, and many businesses have had to adapt fast.

Building on customer relationships and identifying a sense of brand reputation has meant that some companies have continued to survive against independent booking websites.

In fact, a great knowledge of target audience partnered with swift action and marketing nous has lead to a few travel agencies flourishing.

Being able to listen to customers and adapt strategy can bring you popularity and cult status, as demonstrated by Expedia Canada.

Expedia Reacts

In 2013 Expedia launched a television advertisement campaign urging Canadians to escape winter by traveling.

The advert featured a rather annoying violin solo, which after repeated showings increasingly grated on the viewing public.

People took to Twitter to vent their hatred of the infernal racket. Expedia were soon confronted with a barrage of complaints.

Greeted with negative sentiment throughout the social media sphere, Expedia’s creative agency, Grip Limited, devised a plan.

The brand responded quickly, and put out a replacement video which depicted the violin being flung out of the house, a direct response to the complaints made online.

This let consumers know that Expedia was listening to their feelings in a physical and daring way.

This clip directly addressed the preferences and desires of the audience as the violin is smashed up by one of those tweeters complaining about the ad.

This direct, agile approach let the audience know that every single comment is being examined and acted upon, even a solo tweet from a small user.

The Results

When you analyse the social data surrounding the campaign the brand was successfully able to eliminate the negative conversation.

Moreover, they managed to maintain buzz and even experienced an increase in chatter on release of new videos.

What this demonstrates is not only the power of listening, but also of an agile marketing strategy.

Expedia-AD-with-WM

Good marketers don’t stick to the original plan like glue, they react to trends and opportunities.

In fact, one of the most popular campaigns of 2013 – dunk in the dark by Oreo, was a reaction to listening to public conversation on the live blackout at the Superbowl.

Using emerging technologies allows marketers to weather the storm of reactions and also adapt their strategies.

Putting the customer at the forefront of your campaign and listening to their conversations means that a greater connections can be formed.

This is especially important for those within the travel industry who need to maintain loyalty and build on brand reputation.

This case study was taken from our latest report on Travel and Hospitality.

via Expedia Demonstrate The Power of Agile, Responsive Marketing.

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Why TripAdvisor and Priceline Wish Facebook Ads Performed Better – Skift

Both Priceline and TripAdvisor have expressed their disappointment in recent months in the value of Facebook advertising. Pictured, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer at the PhoCusWright Conference in November 2010. PhoCusWright / Flickr.com / Flickr.com

Both Priceline and TripAdvisor have expressed their disappointment in recent months in the value of Facebook advertising. Pictured, TripAdvisor CEO Stephen Kaufer at the PhoCusWright Conference in November 2010. PhoCusWright / Flickr.com / Flickr.com

Priceline Group CEO Darren Huston’s lament that Facebook and Twitter can’t do what Google advertising can when it comes to driving travel transactions is not news to TripAdvisor, which complained of the same shortcomings five months ago.

At the time, TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer said using Facebook to promote its Cities I’ve Visited Ap leads to better monetization, but Facebook falls short in driving transactions in the way that Google Adwords does.

“We weren’t able to get the same traveler in shopping mode to come over to TripAdvisor in any scale that matched Google,” Kaufer said, referring to advertising on Facebook, when speaking at an investor conference in November 2013.

Unlike Huston, Kaufer didn’t address the effectiveness — or lack thereof — of advertising on Twitter at the time.

The independent statements of Kaufer and Huston are a blow to Facebook advertising as a travel-transaction-booster. Both TripAdvisor and the Priceline Group were previously rooting hard for Facebook advertising to succeed as both companies look for other ways to advertise in addition to Google’s platform.

TripAdvisor, in particular, has engaged in lots of disputes with Google when it felt Google was pilfering TripAdvisor reviews and artificially limiting traffic to TripAdvisor in favor of Google promoting its own travel products.

In addition, TripAdvisor was once considered Facebook’s best friend in travel because of TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited Facebook app, with Facebook even citing TripAdvisor’s promotions on Facebook in its IPO registration papers.

Read MoreBrand USA’s 47-to-1 Return on Investment Claim Attracts Doubts Even Among Supporters

Travel companies do have an alternative to Google, though, in one growing channel — travel metasearch through companies such as Kayak, Trivago, Skyscanner, and TripAdvisor, among others.

You only have to look at the Priceline Group’s acquisition of Kayak for $1.8 billion, and Expedia’s acquisition of Germany’s Trivago for $564 million in cash and 875,200 shares to see how Priceline and Expedia were looking for an advertising hedge against Google’s dominance.

Many travel industry companies hoped that alternative would be Facebook, but so far Facebook hasn’t delivered in the view of some major players, at least.

Facebook declined to comment on the issue.

via Why TripAdvisor and Priceline Wish Facebook Ads Performed Better – Skift.

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Hoteliers vs. OTAs: The Quest for a Perfect App

2014-04-09 BY PHILLIP BUTLER

Image representing Skift as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Will mobile technology negate travel service providers’ direct revenue streams? An insightful post by Skift’s Dennis Schaal points to the big OTAs and the coming leverage game of travel bookings via mobile.

Expedia, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, a plethora of booking channels now clutter the hospitality booking lobby, and these carry varying degrees of effectiveness and economy.

While Schaal’s report does allude to hoteliers suffering ever increasing pains at the hands of OTAs, there is another side to the story. Schaal quotes Macquarie Equities Research’s Tom White on the operational disruption TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Priceline can cause. Furthermore, it’s no big secrete TripAdvisor would like to rule the entire hospitality revenue roost. Schaal elaborates using the equity research expert’s intuition, accentuates by TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer’s proclamation over owning the “entire cycle.”

Certainly there’s ample concern on the hotelier end of things here. Clients of our own Pamil Visions travel PR, associates across the spectrum of travel marketing, and even some players in the app building arena have expressed virulently the pluses and minuses of this new “mobile travel ” game. What Shaal and the others mentioned have not shed light on is the flip side of such revenue disruptive technologies.

How the Hotel Will Always Be Right

Somehow the hospitality cart managed to get far out ahead of the hotelier horses, first via the WWW, and now (ostensibly) via the power of an ever growing mobile constituency. Let’s face it, prophesying huge corporate online travel agencies monopolizing guest bookings, that’s a bit like watching a man with a chainsaw standing in front of a redwood, and predicting he’s intent on chopping it down. Excuse the metaphors, but Expedia and the like have made a living providing far reaching reach, with a minimum of effort I might add, to tap into the coffers of every hotelier on the planet. However effective these businesses may be however, unless they plan on hiring bell hops and desk clerks, hotels are still their customers. And the customer is always right, right?

Expedia_logo

Expedia_logo (Photo credit: Svetlana Gladkova)

This article on BigHospitality speaks for the hotelier fed up with battling their own service providers (OTAs) over who owns the business of serving guests. In this piece the balance of equity is the needed shift in favor of the real guest services providers. Nial Kelly Vice President Acquisitions and Development at Starwood Hotels talks suggests leveraging OTAs by only working with those that are for balance. In essence, big and small hotel groups can put the proverbial “squeeze” on Expedia and others. This is what is about to happen if our information here is accurate. All the independent or major chain hotels need is the right catalyst, the right app developer, or an existent player willing to think outside the box.

The “Who” of Direct Mobile Bookings

A couple of months ago I was speaking with Stefan Weitz, head of Microsoft’s Bing about forward movement on Bing’s Travel App. Like other major corporations in the game, Microsoft and Bing came up with an imminently useful app for travelers here. Not unlike

Image representing Microsoft as depicted in Cr...

Image via CrunchBase

our friend’s at Stay.com, Bing put a lot of quality in, features users get the most out of, and ultimately the ability find and reserve the best hotels in the world. Also like Stay.com, “depth” and a lack of appropriate marketing left conversions in a shortfall situation. You see there’s no lack of expertise in creating such tools (even for individual hotels), the cost of such development has been driven down dramatically. The real rub for hotels or corporations like Microsoft is “commitment” – to put it bluntly some companies have more money and resources than drive, when it comes to breaking out into mobile. It’s as if those that should most believe have become too conventional in their thinking.

Therein resides the biggest hurdle for Dennis Schaal’s omnipotent OTA rulers too. TripAdvisor and the rest are super slow on the uptake historically. In fact, in my view, TA and the rest have been lucky somebody like Microsoft has not already snapped up their market share. While Google was the heir apparent to digital travel mastery, today the original OTAs retain their places among marketing channels for hospitality. I am fairly amazed at this, to be honest. Looking at Bing’s app, like everything else at Microsoft it’s Microsoft-centric. These companies act as if they’re the only game in town, like gigantic ostriches. (Sorry Stefan, you know it’s true)

Finally, to give you a few “for instances” on how hotels can rescue themselves from lobby takeovers, here’s a list of apps that could be used to snatch a bigger share of the mobile pie. This says nothing for us working to create regional apps to help hoteliers ourselves 🙂

via Hoteliers vs. OTAs: The Quest for a Perfect App.

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With Licensing Deal Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Looks to Dominate the Online Travel Market | Benchmark Monitor

by Daniel Stone — April 9, 2014

English: The Google logo, the word "Googl...

The Google logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New York – On Tuesday, Bloomberg released a report that Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has reached an agreement with Room 77 to license that company’s hotel booking software.  Room 77 is a start-up that has been funded by Expedia (Nasdaq:EXPE).  The licensing deal marks Google’s intention to re-enter the online travel market after a stop-start attempts in the past, including the introduction of Hotel Price Ads (HPA) in 2010, the acquisition of ITA Software in 2011, and the launch of Hotel Finder the same year.

Along with Expedia, the online travel market is currently dominated by Priceline (NASDAQ:PCLN), Orbitz Worldwide (NYSE:WWW), and TripAdvisor (NASDAQ:TRIP).  According to the ITB World Travel Trends report published last December, online travel booking now accounts for almost 70 percent of all booking and mobile bookings is one to the fastest growing segments overall.  In the United States alone, the industry is worth more than $ 300 billion and given the recent performance of many of the companies in the sector there is still room for growth.

According to analysts the licensing deal by Google is most likely an attempt to upgrade their HPA, which essentially operates as the equivalent of ITA, a proprietary airline booking software.  Whilst HPA is aimed at hotel marketers, the software would essentially allow Google to complete the loop, by facilitating the customer booking.  If this is the case, Google would be positioning itself to cut the middlemen, such as Priceline and Expedia, while providing hotels with a better return on investment when compared to typical paid search campaigns.

Furthermore, industry analysts believe the move was driven by the Department of Justice’s ruling that allowed Google to acquire ITA Software on several conditions, including Google must allow licensed competitors to continue using the software, Google must take measures to prevent snooping, and the company must continue to maintain the software for licensees.

Through the licensing deal, it could be expected that Google might make more forays into the industry as their ‘competitors’ have little if any choice but to continue advertising through Google. While there is little direct evidence to suggest that such a move would hurt Priceline, Expedia, and TripAdvisor, almost 90 percent of what they spend on marketing goes to Google.  As such, the increased emphasis on travel could dramatically alter the online travel market in the long-run.  Shares in Google were up $ 4.10 in pre-market trading on Wednesday morning.

via With Licensing Deal Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Looks to Dominate the Online Travel Market | Benchmark Monitor.

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The Multi-Country Sites Strategy For Online Travel Brands: A Deep Dive – Skift

Skift logoThe largest online travel sites grapple with this question daily: What is the most effective way to conquer the world and plant roots everywhere from Greece to Colombia and Indonesia?It’s a complex question with many elements in such an expansion strategy, but one of the tools in these companies’ arsenals is launching distinct country sites with their own unique, top-level domains such as TripAdvisor.com.br TripAdvisor Brazil, Trivago.ro Trivago Romania, or FlightCentre.com.cn Flight Centre China, for example. googletag.cmd.pushfunction { googletag.display”div-gpt-ad-1390432568424-0″; }; Skift examined the URLs of the top online travel sites around the world and came up with a list of the top 10 travel-booking companies with the most top-level domains, and uncovered some surprises and nuances in strategy.Priceline 240, Expedia 81, and HotelsCombined 61 have the most country sites with distinct, top-level domains for consumer-facing websites. In this list, which is an estimate based on companies’ answers to our queries in some cases, public filings, and our own research, we counted top-level domains such as Hotels.com and Hoteles.com, but not ca.hotels.com or num

via The Multi-Country Sites Strategy For Online Travel Brands: A Deep Dive – Skift.

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What travellers can expect from a Travelocity-Expedia marketing agreement – The Washington Post

By , Published: September 6

Depending on whom you talk to, Travelocity’s unexpected announcement last month that it has reached a strategic marketing agreement with long time rival Expedia will either create a dominant new Internet travel agency, give consumers access to more hotel choices or raise prices.

All three things could happen, actually, but the conjecture surrounding the announcement reminded me of the fallout from the last big online travel deal.

via What travelers can expect from a Travelocity-Expedia marketing agreement – The Washington Post.

PhoCusWright – The Affiliate Deal of the Decade


The Affiliate Deal of the Decade

Travelocity’s New Deal with Long-Time Rival Expedia Marks the End of an Era

It was the fall of 1999, the heyday of online travel 1.0, among many other heydays.

Sabre, the parent of Travelocity, had announced the acquisition of Preview Travel, then the third-largest online travel agency (OTA). The combined entity would be an online travel powerhouse, pushing Travelocity well past number two Expedia, with whom it had been in a rough-and-tumble knife fight for the top spot.

“This is going to be a very, very impressive business in terms of its reach,” said then Sabre Chairman Donald J. Carty, quoted in an October 1999 article in the Wall Street Journal.

And so it was. The acquisition catapulted Travelocity to a leading position, with 35% of the OTA market in the U.S. in 2000, when total OTA gross bookings reached $6.6 billion. But the experience of being top dog was a fleeting one. Sabre’s subsidiary was quickly outflanked.

Within just two years, Expedia had shot ahead with its market-making merchant model for hotels, powered in part by the acquisitions of two online lodging aggregators, Travelscape and VacationSpot. Expedia’s new hotel platform gave it an edge that left its competitors as well as hoteliers in a daze amid the recession of 2001 and 2002. By 2004, one year after the additions of Hotels.com and Hotwire, Expedia was the U.S. market leader by a longshot, with nearly half the market.

read more via PhoCusWright.

Expedia, Inc. and Travelocity announce strategic marketing agreement « Media Releases « SabreNews

BELLEVUE, Wash. AND SOUTHLAKE, Texas – August 22, 2013 – Expedia, Inc. (NASDAQ: EXPE) and Travelocity today announced entry into an exclusive, long-term strategic marketing agreement, whereby Expedia will power the technology platforms for Travelocity’s existing websites in the US and Canada, while providing Travelocity access to Expedia, Inc.’s supply and customer services. Upon the implementation of the agreement, Travelocity will focus its efforts on promoting its brand and marketing the broad offering of travel services and supply made available through this agreement. Travelocity will remain wholly-owned by Sabre Holdings Corporation, and independent of Expedia, Inc. Travelocity-owned lastminute.com in Europe and the Travelocity Partner Network are not included in this marketing arrangement. – See more at: http://www.sabre.com/newsroom/expedia-inc-and-travelocity-announce-strategic-marketing-agreement/#sthash.OPAjRhRO.dpuf

via Expedia, Inc. and Travelocity announce strategic marketing agreement « Media Releases « SabreNews.

Five Best Travel Ads: India, Peru, Peninsula Hotels, Hilton, Expedia – Skift

There’s only one place where ignoring the organization and logistics involved with travel really pays off. That’s in travel ads where people don’t want to think about renting a car or booking a tour, but want to imagine themselves steeped in culture in front of vistas they’ve only seen in their dreams.

Consequently, this week’s ad roundup looks at the romantic side of travel. It looks past business meetings to see face-to-face human connection, turns arguably irresponsible last-minute trips into a celebration of spontaneity, and highlights how ancient trails can become a modern-day action movie.

via Five Best Travel Ads: India, Peru, Peninsula Hotels, Hilton, Expedia – Skift.

Expedia Faced Q2 Advertising Woes and its Hotwire Business Suffered, by Skift – Skift

Expedia Faced Q2 Advertising Woes and its Hotwire Business Suffered, by Skift – Skift.

TV travel advertising in the U.S. has suddenly become more crowded and competitive, and as Expedia Inc. brands struggled to break through the clutter in the second quarter, the company’s hotel business suffered, and its Hotwire unit took a particularly hard hit.

Amidst some downbeat financials, that was the competitive climate that officials said Expedia operated in during the quarter.

The impact of Expedia’s multifaceted woes? Room night growth decelerated from 28% year-over year in the first quarter to 19% in the second quarter, and revenue growth likewise slowed from 24% in the first quarter to 16% in the second.

And, Expedia Inc.’s net income declined 27% to $90.5 million in the second quarter of 2013, compared with the same period a year earlier