Travelocity Effort Focuses on Weekend Getaways

Reacting to internal research and Google searches that showed a shift away from longer, flight-dependent trips, Travelocity this week is shifting gears to reach consumers planning short weekend getaways.

The online travel brand will roll out a new TV ad this weekend showing a couple racing off, action-movie style, to a hotel. The ad, created by longtime agency partner McKinney, was directed by Ericson Core, the director of photography for the first Fast and the Furious movie, was designed to link summer travel and the spirit of a summer blockbuster, said Jonathan Cude, chief creative officer at McKinney.

The print and online executions take a different approach and trumpet Travelocity’s May sale, which provides three- and four-star hotel accommodations starting at $59 a night. “We’re trying to hit people who still want to travel but are looking to curtail spending a little bit,” Cude said.

In addition to advertising, the effort includes new geotargeting on Travelocity’s homepage. If a consumer from, say, New York, logs in, she will see promotions for beach vacations on Long Island or a getaway to Boston.

Spending for the campaign was not disclosed. Travelocity spent $70 million on measured media in 2008, per Nielsen.

The focus is a new one for Travelocity, which has in the past run ads featuring its garden gnome mascot in exotic foreign and domestic locales. “Since the world kind of changed last year, we have seen that consumers have changed the way they search and travel,” said Victoria Treyger, CMO at Travelocity. Treyger said Google searches showed a sharply growing interest in close-to-home weekend getaways, but the company’s own research supported that claim.

Recent data from Forrester Research also shows that 47 percent of consumers are considering cutting back on vacation spending this year and 45 percent are considering taking shorter trips. “It makes a lot of sense,” Henry Harteveldt, vp/principal analyst at Forrester, said of Travelocity’s campaign. “Weekend getaways—whether fly trips or drives—are what we’re looking at.” Harteveldt said he believed the swine flu won’t be a major factor in travel this summer, except for travel to Mexico. “That’s a disruption. It’s a short-term blip.”