Expedia's Brand Do-Overs Include Orbitz Putting Greater Focus on LGBTQ Market

Expedia Group has 10 or more online travel agency brands. They are busy redefining their identities to better focus on key customers and avoid unnecessary overlap.Expedia Group recently relaunched Orbitz, with a focus in the LGBTQIA+ market. Expedia is retooling its network of online travel agencies brands as part of a larger effort to retool them all. All of these brands have been acquired over the past couple decades.Businesses across all industries face challenges in differentiating their content and reaching target audiences, regardless of whether they are online travel agencies or hotel brand.Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern announced last month that Orbitz has been relaunched with a focus in LGBTQIA+. That's a push, as we attempt to differentiate brands, and really focus each brand around their market.Orbitz has a long history of LGBTQ advocacy. In fact, it claims to have been the first online travel agency that mentioned gay travel in 2002. It launched a new pride microsite in April just in time for Pride Month. Orbitz allows travelers to search for hotels that have signed an inclusion pledge.Henry Harteveldt, Atmosphere Research Group, described Orbitz's relaunch in terms of an online travel agency that is general-purpose and focuses on LGBTQ customers.Harteveldt stated that this is a lightning bolt. We have never seen anyone refocus mainstream brands to the LGBTQ community.However, it is still a work-in-progress to determine the extent and duration of this focus. Orbitz's default hotel search is not LGBTQ-specific. Instead, travelers can use the pride microsite to search LGBTQ-welcoming hotels.Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst and advisor from Atmosphere Research Group, stated that Orbitz must market it aggressively so the message gets through the clutter.A modest advertising campaign was indeed part of the Orbitz relaunch.Expedia Group spokeswoman said that we did extensive qualitative and quantitative research in the year prior to Travel As You Are's launch. The insight that drove this campaign was simple: Many LGBTQIA travelers feel safe and accepted, but not the norm. We provide information and resources to help travelers explore the world as they wish. It also means being their advocate, and supporting the causes that they care about.Harteveldt noted that travel marketing is often lacking visibility for the LGBTQ community. He liked the Orbitz ad theme, Travel as You Are.According to iSpot.tv, Expedia Groups priority when it came to TV advertising was with Expedia.com and Hotels.com in June. These three brands were not the only ones that were ranked in the top five online travel websites for advertising spend. Airbnb and Booking Holdings Priceline also ranked. Orbitz did not disclose the potential spend via other channels nor the total cost of the campaign.Expedia's Trip-MaximizersThe company's flagship brand Expedia.com recently launched its largest ever marketing campaign to recast itself as being geared in part towards trip maximizers.Travelocity, a sister online travel agency, is focusing on U.S families with young children. This includes targeting Hispanic families via Spanish-language TV spots.Travelocity spokeswoman Rachel Shin said that the company does not consider brand tweaks to be a complete rebrand. Shin stated that we don't intend to alienate any of our current customers but are instead focusing on refocusing our communications strategies to better reach family and Hispanic travelers. Our ultimate goal is to be the most trusted and family-friendly travel website.Expedia, Orbitz, and Travelocity were once bitter rivals, but are now owned by Expedia Group. They all received brand tweaks in varying degrees. This happened six years ago, after their union.Expedias Cheaptickets is also being redesigned to appeal to students and young travelers, as younger people are more inclined to enjoy cheap.Expedia has positioned Hotels.com with a rewards program that gives a free night for every ten stays. Vrbos' sweet spot is for complex family travel, primarily for vacation rentals in whole-home homes.Online Travel Agents Versus HotelsAtmospheres Harteveldt stated that it's easier to distinguish hotel brands from online travel agencies in some ways.Harteveldt explained that hotel properties are subject to geographic restrictions. This means that Sheraton and Marriott Internationals Renaissance properties wouldn't be competing for customers in the same location.However, Expedia and Travelocity, Orbitz as well as Hotels.com, do not have any contractual restrictions that would prevent them from taking each other's customers.Expedia Group hopes that marketing and a renewed focus can make a difference with their products' overwhelming overlap.