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Friday, November 12, 2004

Travelocity's marketing needs to connect the dots

Who knew that Travelocity is much better than competitors like Expedia and Hotels.com? Not me. All the big online travel sites' marketing sound alike to me.

A couple of weeks ago I sat in on an excellent presentation by Jeffrey Gulleck, CMO of Travelocity, at the Sales and Marketing Leaders Summit in Desert Springs, CA. Gulleck explained that most of the online travel sites confirm our hotel reservations with, hold on now, faxes back and forth to the hotels. Travelocity’s technology is far more advanced, which helps the service provide better deals, better service, more reliability. “The complexity of the travel industry is our friend,” explained Gulleck. “It provides a barrier to small companies entering the category, and helps us compete against the other major players.”

Most interesting was the strategic work Gulleck has done to create a new positioning: “Travelocity is the advocate for travelers,” a position that Travelocity can deliver on better than any of their competitors.

Most disappointing, however, was seeing Travelocity’s new gnome ads, which don’t pay off the positioning.

Why, we wonder, don’t companies use their positioning points-of-view to drive all of their brand communications, from advertising and public relations to sales presentations and Web marketing? If Travelocity really wants to be an advocate for travelers, it might think about trading in the gnomes for a Gert Boyle-like campaign. (I’d trust Columbia Sportswear’s “Mother Boyle” ads before the gnome.) Or allocate more to a content-driven advertorial campaign. Or get more from PR.

With my work schedule, I really want a travel advocate. Travelocity needs to prove that it is one.

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