Trip.com Relaunches with $40M Campaign

Cendant Corporation’s Trip Network is relaunching Trip.com, one of its online travel sites, supporting it with a $40 million multi-media ad campaign aimed at putting it into serious contention with the leaders in the space.

This is the first major effort to promote Trip.com after it was acquired, along with its sister site CheapTickets Inc., as part of Cendant’s October 2001 purchase of Galileo International, a creator of distribution technology for the travel industry.

This move to bring Trip.com front and center began with the redesign of the site, completed in January, to give it a tab-style navigation system and enhanced personalization features.

Now the company is supporting the relaunch with an aggressive national advertising effort, beginning today, called “Portraits.” The campaign, created by Grey Advertising’s New York office, uses television, radio, print, and online ads featuring the slogan “There’s Only One You.” The idea, according to the company, is to highlight the personalization features available on the site.

The television ads show tableaus of different people and the types of things they like to do on their vacations — going to sunny Florida, visiting a spa, golfing in Scotland, skydiving, or visiting a nude beach — with the emphasis being that everyone likes to do something unique when they’re traveling. The tagline: “The new Trip.com. For the most important trip in the world. Yours.”

“Our advertising campaign is built on one simple, but profound fact, which also drives our business goals,” said Evans Gebhardt, chief marketing officer of Trip Network. “For individual travelers, the most important trip in the world is theirs. At Trip.com we respect each customer’s personal needs, and that’s why we’re telling consumers with confidence that no matter who you are — at Trip.com, ‘It’s Your Trip.'”

But Trip.com isn’t missing out on the discount frenzy that’s taken hold in online travel circles as of late. Other online ads — which use the pop-up style popularized by online travel competitor Orbitz — highlight the discounts available on Trip.com, trumpeting the words “Low Fares. Great Destinations.” and encouraging consumers to visit the new Trip.com for savings on “our already discounted airfares”.

A sweepstakes, called “Book Your Trip and You Can Win a Trip,” has also been unveiled to support the launch. Between April 30 and May 13, people who buy on Trip.com are eligible to win one of ten free tickets, provided by US Airways, which will be given away per day.

Trip.com is also providing airfare to Hollywood as a prize for NBC’s “Watch and Win” radio contest promoting the network’s 75th anniversary special on May 5 — an alliance which will give it exposure in radio spots for the contest.

The effort comes amid a growing realization that online travel is one of the most successful segments for e-commerce, even though the travel industry in general took a big hit after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Researchers at comScore Networks found that consumers spent around $7 billion in online travel at U.S. Web sites in the first quarter of 2002. That was an increase of 87 percent versus the same period in 2001 and 39 percent more than the previous quarter. Travel accounted for 41 percent of total consumer e-commerce spending.

“Throughout the holiday season, many consumers suspended their travel plans — and in turn saved their travel dollars,” explained comScore vice president Dan Hess. “Now that many of those same consumers are taking to the skies again, travel providers and service agencies are benefiting from those newly reopened wallets.”

Analysts at research firm Jupiter Media Metrix forecast that online sales of travel will grow to $64 billion by 2007, more than double the $24 billion in sales in 2001. Jupiter researchers predict that the Internet will account for 22 percent of all travel bookings in 2007, up from 11 percent in 2001. The January 2002 Jupiter Consumer Survey also sheds light on the online travel marketplace. It found that 77 percent of consumers who research and/or purchase travel services online visit more than one Web site to compare prices — which documents the fact that competition in the arena is fierce.

In terms of traffic, Expedia is leading the way, having attracted 11.6 million visitors to its site in March 2002, according to Nielsen//NetRatings. Next was Travelocity, with 10.2 million unique visitors, while Orbitz came in third, bringing in 6.6 million. Trip.com didn’t show up on Nielsen//NetRatings’ top ten travel site listing.

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