Hotwire Spends More on Its Cheaper Rates

NEW YORK Hotwire.com is keeping a vow to step up TV advertising, breaking a new flight of spots today that focus on its hotel discount rates.

The online travel broker introduced its first television commercials last June, after New York shop DeVito Verdi coined the tagline, “Fly. Sleep. Drive. Cheap.” The client partially credits the advertising for an additional $150 million in bookings, a 78 percent increase in hotel business from third-quarter 2002 to third-quarter 2003.

Following its first year as a profitable company, the privately held venture increased its media budget from $40 million to $55 million, the bulk of which will be spent on television ads, said chief marketing officer Ty Shay. Strategy will remain focused on attracting travelers who want to vacation cheaply, he said.

Two 15-second ads aim to sell the hotel discounts, which Shay called Hotwire.com’s best service with the site’s deepest discounts. In “Bed-Jumping,” a woman folding a Hawaiian shirt repeats, “Stop jumping on the bed,” ostensibly to her kids. When the camera pulls back, we see a grown man jumping for joy on a king-size bed. A voiceover says, “You’d be happy too if you just saved up to 75 percent on a hotel room.”

The second spot, “Wake-up Call,” shows a man requesting such a service from the front desk. The concierge apprises him of his missed savings and then says, “How’s that for a wake-up call?” Both commercials end with Hotwire.com’s twangy kicker and its 6-month-old tagline.

“We went right to the point, which is the idea that you can save money,” said agency president Ellis Verdi. “The thought is quick and exposed with frequency will get a terrific reaction.”

Ads will run during prime time on cable networks including TBS, USA, TNT, VH1, Comedy Central and ESPN, Shay said.

A radio campaign that broke in April has been replaced with programming sponsorships and 10-second live read spots on stations nationwide, Shay said.