Understanding What Expedia-Owned Travel Sites Can Offer Travel Brands
In early December, Expedia, Inc. held their annual Partner Conference in Las Vegas where the entire travel industry (or at least those who use Expedia properties which is, like, everyone) gathered to learn the latest and greatest about travel strategies and Expedia offerings.
Part of the conference focused on the offerings from the Expedia Media Solutions group which, in essence, is like a giant ad network for any brand interested in reaching travel demographics. Expedia Inc. owns Expedia, Travelocity, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Hotwire, Trivago and several others. In other words, it's basically everything except booking.com and Kayak. So, yea, if you're a brand looking to tap anything in the travel space, you'll likely be working with Expedia.
The Expedia Media Solutions group serves as and entry point for brands and media buyers to access Expedia properties and the demos they serve. Part of the presentation broke down four Expedia properties, the markets they serve and the demos they target. I thought it might be helpful for brands to see just how Expedia has positioned each of their properties so I'll share with you what they shared with me about Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire and Hotels.com.
Expedia has positioned itself as a travel service for an affluent, well-educated audience. Pn average, customers tend to have incomes greater than $150,000 which is 70% greater than the national average. Expedia users are more educated possessing college degree or higher at a rate 50% greater than average. They are slightly more male (3%) and they tend to be single and urban dwelling.
In terms of psychographics, Expedia users tend to be trail blazers who enjoy off the beaten path adventures and international travel. They look at travel as necessary to enjoying life and a good investment.
In its advertising, Expedia leans towards the inspirational and emotional focusing on how travel can be a personally rewarding experience.
Travelocity, of course, is all about the Roaming Gnome. Travelocity wants its travelers to "go and smell the roses" with the belief that "travel enriches our lives and makes us better human beings." So it's much more of a touchy feely presentation that ones that's necessarily tied to a specific demographic.
No doubt you've seen the Roaming Gnome in may Travelocity ads and that little guy is an expression of the wanderlust many people feel when they travel the world. If you know Rosie Siman Yakob and Faris Yakob, founders of strategy and innovation consultancy Genius Steals , then you probably have a pretty good picture of the Travelocity traveler. Faris and Rosie don't actually live anywhere. They've been running their business from the road for 3 or so years. Their home office is the world. They've certainly gone out and smelled the roses.
Of this positioning, Travelocity VP and General Manager Brad Wilson said, "Rather than dramatically shifting course every year or so, Travelocity has maintained a consistent brand voice almost since its inception one that combines an inspiration to travel with a dash of wisdom and playfulness from our long-time brand icon, the Roaming Gnome. This consistency has allowed us to not only differentiate ourselves, but to keep a long-term connection with our base of loyal customers despite a rapidly changing travel landscape. While offering a good website experience is critical, the key to leveraging that website is to deliver a compelling brand message that brings customers to the site, delivers merchandising and personalization to the experience at scale, and then to follow up with outstanding customer service to ensure repeat business."
Hotwire is all about the emotion and purpose of travel. In their own words, "We believe we discover who we really are in unexpected travel moments. And that enabling more travel, and smarter choices about where we stay, increases our likelihood of experiencing more serendipitous moments."
Hotwire users take 14-15 trips each year and, because of how Hotwire is set up, many are open to opaque travel. Opaque travel is getting good deal but not knowing the name of the place you will stay until you complete your booking. Hotwire users would rather save the money most of waste of coffee daily and spend that on travel instead. OK so maybe daily coffee money isn't quite a hefty sum but the point is, these travelers allocate whatever extra money they have to travel. It's a passion.
A portion of the Hotwire brand anthem reads, "We are travelers. We never skip weddings or pass on reunions or bail on friends. We fly in the face of monotony. We ski and dance and eat with out hands...We have stories that live long after the luggage is back in the closet...Sometime we wing it. Sometimes we splurge. Sometimes we find a four star hotel for the price of a two star...We know less money spent on a hotel means more next trips."
Much like Travelocity, Hotels.com has a strong brand personality and brand spokesperson in Captain Obvious. Captain Obvious, of course, is a slightly wise-ass, know-it-all doofus who loves to spout off all the obvious things about hotel travel.
Of the Captain Obvious Character, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, "I loved the Captain Obvious video you ran on Facebook without sound -- hilarious and so smart. I mentioned it during a fireside chat at Ad Week as an example of the kind of innovative creative that is pushing the boundaries for marketers in a mobile first world."
That campaign garnered the brand 13 million video views, 189 million impressions and 1,000 plus entrants to a content promoted in the video.
The brand smartly tied Captain Obvious to the web series Honest Trailers marrying Captain Obvious's penchant for stating the obvious with Honest Trailers' aim for the same.
While Hotels.com customers are said to possess higher income, they value a good bargain with most staying at 3 star hotels. They are digitally connected with 1 in 3 transactions occurring on a mobile device. The Hotels.com mobile app has been downloaded 50 million times and there are 20 million Hotels'com rewards loyalty program members.
Hotels.com VP and General Manager Josh Belkin put is this way, "When people ask me what's different about our site, I always tell them it's our top-notch loyalty program, Hotels.com Rewards. The program is simple: you book and stay 10 nights and you get one free. You can choose from great hotels in thousands of destinations around the world to both collect and redeem complimentary stays."
Expedia Media Solutions
And on how Expedia Media Solutions ties this all together for travel-focused marketers, Global Senior Vice President Noah Tratt said, "For our marketing partners, we always start with first understanding their objectives and sharing insights to illustrate opportunities across our global portfolio of leading travel sites. With our knowledge of traveler behaviors and sophisticated targeting capabilities, we can provide partners relevant audiences of engaged travelers who are not only visiting our sites to book trips, but also to dream and be inspired - which is why we offer marketing solutions to reach travelers through all stages of the funnel."
And on how the Expedia travel brands marry themselves to travel-related partners, Tratt added, "We also extend the brand campaigns of our sites to help partners tell compelling stories to travelers. For instance, New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau worked with us to bring the world-renowned Travelocity Roaming Gnome to showcase all the city has to offer, and VisitBritain leveraged our Expedia brand campaign 'Find Yours' in the U.S. to inspire travelers to explore historic sites across the U.K."
You can download all four of the actual presentations the brand managers of these properties gave here.
Travel Myths Debunked
Part of the Expedia Media Solutions presentation also put forth some detailed information on travelers in general as well as dispelled many myths that exist about travelers, particularly Millennials which, as you all know, always get painted into a little tiny box that doesn't really represent who they truly are. You can access that presentation here.
- 34% of Millennials use travel agents as opposed to 8% for Boomers
- Millennials are the most active travel segment compared to Xers, Boomers and Matures
- Millennials can be single, a couple or married with kids. Its a very broad, diverse group
- Millennials enjoy cruising just as much as the stereotypically cruise-inclined Mature demo
Just how big is the Expedia audience? Rolled up, the Expedia sites see 90 million unique visitors each month with 1.2 billion page views. There are 23 million email subscribers, 4.9 million Facebook followers, 269,000 Twitter followers and 3.6 million Google+ followers.
Oh and just for fun, with anticipation running high for Stars Wars in Early December, the conference opened with a very Star Wars-themed laser show. Pretty epic considering the usual boredom at most marketing conferences.