Travel booking site Hotels.com has launched a full review of its North American media planning and buying business. It will combine the American and Canadian portions of the account, seeking a strategic advantage in the increasingly crowded reservation aggregation market.
Sources note that Manhattan consultancy Ark Advisors will handle the initial stages of the review process.
“We regularly review our agency partners to make sure they’re aligned with our evolving needs as a brand, and I can confirm we have recently started that process for our North America media business,” said Mike Wolfe, senior director of brand marketing for the Dallas-based company, which has been part of Expedia since 2001.
Crispin Porter + Bogusky is incumbent on the business in the United States. The MDC Partners agency won creative agency of record duties in a 2013 review that saw it beat out Leo Burnett and Arnold, later developing the Captain Obvious character and eventually inheriting the U.S. planning and buying work that had been with independent agency TargetCast.
MEC, which recently merged with Maxus to become Wavemaker, is media agency of record for the brand in Canada, handling strategy for recent regional campaigns with creative by J. Walter Thompson Canada.
Sources tell Adweek that MEC will defend its business and CP+B will sit out this review while retaining the creative portion of the account. The same parties claim that the review will involve primarily independent media shops since many of the holding groups have conflicts with other travel brands.
According to Kantar Media, Hotels.com spent approximately $174 million on paid media in the U.S. last year and $48.5 million during the first quarter of 2017. These numbers are significantly higher than the $40 million total listed during the 2013 review.