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Expedia Launches Travel Game to Push Rewards Program

  |  June 20, 2013   |  Comments

The game, Around the World in 100 Days, asks participants to select an avatar, choose a travel preference, and earn tokens for virtual travel.

Travel site Expedia.com is turning to online gaming to raise awareness of its rewards program.

On June 17, Expedia launched Around the World in 100 Days, a 15-week contest that allows players to earn up to one million points in Expedia Rewards.

According to the brand, the campaign is designed to increase engagement with its U.S. Expedia Rewards program, an initiative that allows customers to earn additional airline points, hotel points, package points, and hotel amenities and upgrades at over 1,300 hotels.

In order to participate in Around the World in 100 Days, consumers must visit the microsite, pick an avatar, choose what kind of travel they like - Expedia has created four virtual travel personas: City Slickers, Escape Artists, Adventure Addicts, and Culture Buffs - and register for Expedia Rewards or sign in to an existing account.

As of Tuesday, Julius Lai, senior director of loyalty marketing at Expedia, says Expedia Rewards has five million active members. Also according to Lai, 30 million people use Expedia each year.

After a user has picked an avatar, travel persona, and signed in, the game sends each player's avatar on what Expedia calls a "pre-defined virtual journey comprised of distinct, exciting travel destinations."

Users must get tokens to fund their avatar's journey. They can do so by booking travel on Expedia, referring a friend, or answering Travel Trivia. New trivia will be featured each week. Players will earn Expedia Rewards points based on the amount of virtual currency they earn throughout the game.

As the game progresses, participants receive postcard-style emails in which the avatar details where he or she is visiting and provides links for participants to learn more, Lai says. In order to continue traveling, participants must continue to earn tokens, he adds.

"It's hopefully a fun way to learn more about Expedia and also to learn more about the destinations that are featured," Lai says.

Locations in the experience include Las Vegas, Honolulu, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, London, Dublin, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sydney.

"We want to give our most active members opportunities to earn points...but we also recognize this is a great opportunity to reintroduce [consumers] to Rewards," Lai says. "A lot of people who shop on Expedia don't know about our loyalty program."

Earlier this year, Expedia consolidated its reward offerings into the existing program. This promotion is an effort to reintroduce the program, Lai adds.

Expedia began marketing the campaign on Wednesday by featuing it on the Expedia website and emailing its customer base. As of Tuesday, the game had "several hundred" participants, Lai says.

Around the World in 100 Days is powered by gamification platform Badgeville and digital marketing and gamification agency Mindspace.

Expedia has 1.8 million Facebook likes and 150,000 Twitter followers.

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In addition to ClickZ and Search Engine Watch, Lisa's work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.

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