Skift Take

Expedia wants to help people find a new travel companion — namely Expedia. We've heard online travel agencies and others vow to become to become less price-oriented before, but fickle deal hunters will make that a tough pledge to fulfill.

The Expedia brand will debut its largest advertising campaign in five years, and at the same time it will automatically add 25 million customers to its loyalty program, Expedia Rewards.

It’s all part of a redefining of the Expedia brand — the largest one within the Expedia Group family of more than 20 brands that the brand announced Monday.

Despite automatically adding 25 million travelers who’ve booked trips on Expedia but haven’t signed up for Expedia Rewards, the campaign hopes to reposition Expedia as more value-oriented. What’s more, it wants to be an ever-present resource on customer trips, than being price-oriented, said Expedia General Manager Shiv Singh. Expedia Rewards members can earn 10 percent discounts on trips and earn points.

Singh told Skift that Expedia decided to automatically add customers to its rewards program, which will be revamped in other unspecified ways, several months ago].  The move was not tied to Tripadvisor Plus. Under that competitor’s plan, members pay $99 annually and in theory get access to substantial discounts on luxury-oriented stays.

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Expedia Rewards requires no such subscription for membership, and Expedia customers who get automatically enrolled can choose to opt out.

Expedia’s new tag line — it hadn’t had one for a few years — is “It Matters Who You Travel With.” The new tag line comes with a refresh, and new look and feel to Expedia’s roughly 70 websites around the world and its app. Here’s how Expedia presented its new vision on Instagram even before the official announcement early Monday morning.

As the narrator in one video in the campaign, set to the tune, “All By Myself,” puts it, “Like a great companion, Expedia has your back throughout your journey. It matters who you travel with.”

The U.S. ad features actor and director Rashida Jones while the UK commercial features actor Naomie Harris.

The ad campaign, including digital media and television commercials, which kick off April 25 at the Oscars in the U.S. and May 11 at the Brit Awards in the UK, will roll out in phases around the world, Singh said.

Expedia’s global ad campaign comes in the context of Airbnb launching a global ad campaign, including TV in five markets and digital advertising around the world, in late February. Airbnb’s is likewise its largest ad blitz in around five years. Expedia’s campaign, though, is just for the Expedia brand, and not for its Vrbo sister brand, for example. Expedia’s advertisements do not center on short-term rentals.

The Expedia brand repositioning comes with product tweaks and pledges of more to come. For example, Expedia said there will be new designs for mobile and desktop to enhance trip planning all in one place, it will debut bundles of flights, accommodations and activities, will enhance the tracking of travel insurance claims, and will upgrade its virtual agent capabilities.

In keeping with the brand promises announced Monday, among the changes, Singh said travelers will be able to make changes to their trips while traveling in real-time, and will get stronger artificial intelligence-fed recommendations.

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Note: This story was updated to mention the Airbnb advertising campaign.

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Tags: advertising, branding, expedia, loyalty, marketing, packages, subscriptions, travel insurance, tripadvisor

Photo credit: A Google Earth image from an Expedia Paris travel guide. Expedia wants travelers to consider Expedia as their ever-present travel companion. Expedia

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