American Airlines Reprises One-Day Web Promotion

American Airlines is promoting discounted airfares through a special, one-day sale on Yahoo and Travelocity.com.

The promo for the Fort Worth, Texas-based air carrier features round-trip, off-peak fares for travel anywhere within the Americas and certain overseas destinations. Consumers must purchase tickets good from now until Dec. 13.

On the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Web portal’s travel area, American Airlines and Yahoo-branded banners and skyscrapers feature copy highlighting “the One Day Fare Sale — special fares, today only,” which has been brought back “because everyone deserves a second chance…” and “by popular demand.” In addition, a link to the promotion appears on Yahoo’s home page.

On its own site, Travelocity, which powers the booking engine on Yahoo, is running skyscrapers and buttons with more American Airlines copy, including its tagline: “Coach has more class.”

The promotion comes as what could be a time a crisis for the airline industry, as pundits are predicting the major air carriers will report a summer of slipping revenues. Groups like the Air Transport Association and analysts at Merrill Lynch are reporting some of the lowest revenue per seat in years, as businesses cut back on travel expenses.

Not surprisingly, then, the effort is the second such promotion offered by the firms, which launched a similar effort on Aug. 8.

American Airlines didn’t disclose how much it made during the first promotion, though the companies said it resulted in “unprecedented” single-day ticket sales on both Yahoo Travel and Travelocity.com.

“We know great fares when we see them, and this sale should be welcome news for anyone who missed the last one and even those who participated and still want to save on Fall travel,” said Terrell Jones, president and chief executive officer for Travelocity.com. “Our Aug. 8 sale was successful for thousands of our members and American Airlines. Our relationship with Yahoo Travel gives us the unique capability to spread the word about fare sales like this one.”

While much has been made of Web ads’ branding potential in recent months — in a bid to attract greater shares of advertising budgets spent on traditional media — the American Airlines promotion suggests that advertisers are willing, at least, to launch high-profile direct response campaigns.

Whether the campaign will pay off, however, remains in doubt. Direct response efforts have taken something of a credibility hit, thanks to the steady, much-publicized decline in click-through rates during the past few years. And technical problems — at press time, Travelocity’s ad redirects were timing out — aren’t likely to help.

But at any rate, Yahoo executives see the effort as a sure-fire win for American Airlines — and good promotion for its own marketing capabilities.

“The first one-day fare sale with American Airlines blew away expectations and resulted in unprecedented ticket sales on Yahoo Travel,” said Matt Rightmire, vice president and general manager of Yahoo’s media group.

“Consumers’ incredible response clearly demonstrates a desire to purchase travel services online when offered a great value. This type of promotion also illustrates the successful Yahoo Travel-Travelocity.com collaboration, which provides travel suppliers an inexpensive and efficient method of reaching millions of customers.”

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