Expedia and Marriott are among the companies rethinking their marketing as consumers get vaccinated and travel and tourism demand grows
A new ad from Expedia today will kick off the online travel company’s most expensive brand marketing effort in five years. In the ad, actress Rashida Jones embodies Expedia as a companion for a woman traveling alone to a foreign country. Ms. Jones transforms the traveler’s sad hotel room into a larger, more pleasant space with a snap of her fingers, and helps remove her from a precarious situation involving women taking selfies.
The marketing effort, which also includes the introduction of new trip insurance and itinerary-planning products, was inspired by research showing not only rising demand for travel as restrictions from the pandemic abate, but also consumers’ desire for travel companies to provide more than deals, said Shiv Singh, senior vice president and general manager at Expedia, a unit of Expedia Group Inc.
“The travel space in some regards was more-transaction oriented. It was where you find the best deal, you go for the cheapest ticket,” said Mr. Singh. “That’s changed now. People think about value differently.”
Expedia’s campaign will not be alone: Airings of TV commercials promoting travel websites have more than doubled in the 50 days ended April 12, compared with the previous 50 days, according to media measurement firm iSpot.tv. Other travel and tourism marketers are also ramping up their marketing as the industry moves to reassert itself after a year of lockdowns and limits on movement.
They are re-evaluating and recalibrating their pitches in the process. Some brands are delivering messages about safe gathering, while others are focusing on promotional ads that feature deals.
“In the past 13 months we’ve seen a completely unprecedented slashing of advertising budgets in the travel industry,” said Kevin Kopelman, an analyst at financial services firm Cowen who covers online travel companies and hotels.
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