Travel brands can’t win anymore by simply offering the cheapest price.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out last year, people are being much more considerate about how and when they travel — and who they travel with.
As the world slowly starts to open up and people start traveling again, Expedia wants to be useful at every step of the journey. The online travel platform unveiled a rebrand on Monday that repositions it from a booking and reservations platform to the “ultimate travel companion.”
“We're no longer just focused on inspiring travel and helping you find the right hotel, airline or rental car,” said Shiv Singh, SVP and GM of brand at Expedia. “We're emphasizing helping and supporting you at every step of the journey. That’s a pretty fundamental shift for Expedia.”
The rebrand stems from new products Expedia has launched in the past year that aim to make traveling easier and safer, including a living itinerary in the Expedia app that automatically updates when any travel plans change, the ability to handle insurance claims in the app, and side-by-side comparisons of offers with clear price breakdowns.
“Consumers are looking for someone they can really trust and depend on,” Singh said. “They are looking for a higher order relationship with someone who can guide them at every step.”
Backing the rebrand is an updated logo and a hero spot starring actress and director Rashida Jones, set to Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself,” that will air in the U.S. on April 25 during the Oscars. The UK version of the ad will star Naomi Harris and air during The BRIT awards on May 11.
The campaign is Expedia’s largest branding effort in five years, Singh said.
“This is not a small, run-of-the-mill campaign,” he said. “We're putting an incredible amount of weight and attention behind this on the product and marketing side.”
Because Expedia is trying to be more to its customers, the spot, created with Saatchi & Saatchi, was done in a more artistic style than typical travel advertising that offers a “quick fix with an emotional high,” Singh said.
“I believe we're entering an age where powerful brands really matter,” he said. “People want to align with brands they can trust, that stand for something and have a clear voice.”
Few sectors have been hit harder than travel and tourism during the COVID-19 pandemic, as the world was forced into strict lockdowns. Expedia’s business wasn’t spared, with revenues down 57% for the year.
But as vaccines roll out demand for travel is rising again. Almost half of respondents to Expedia’s most recent Travel Trends Report said they would be more likely to travel when a vaccine is widely available.
“COVID has made us care more about travel and appreciate it,” Singh said. “It's also made us think more about who we travel with. We are establishing Expedia as that ultimate travel companion.”