Hotels.com – Smart

Category: Travel/Tourism/Destination
Brand/Client: Hotels.com
Primary Agency: Y&R Chicago
Media Agency: TargetCast

STRATEGIC CHALLENGE

This isn’t breaking news: the economy is in bad shape.

And instead of getting hits, the online travel business just got hit. Hard. With the media constantly reminding people to cut back on unnecessary spending, the staycation was born and online travel agencies (OLTAs) were struggling (Mintel Report, Q4 2008). If you were an OLTA in 2009, your brand no longer mattered. There was no brand loyalty and no differentiation (Agency quantitative brand analysis tool, 2008 & Q1 '09).

When people traveled at all, they booked trips on one budget cutting fact alone: who had the best deal.

Hotels.com, in particular, had an unclear identity with our target audience (25-54 year-old adults who book travel online). Why? Hotels.com had been hanging its hat on “customer reviews,” which were neither unique in the category nor particularly motivating. In fact, the customer reviews actually detracted attention away from the brand and focused it instead onto the peers that wrote them.