Travelocity's First PR Agency Review Aims To Revit
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Travelocity's First PR Agency Review Aims To Revit

Arun Sudhaman

Travelocity has begun the first substantial review of its PR agency relationship with Edelman, with the online travel agency hoping that an updated approach to integrated communication will help revitalize an ailing business. The company has worked with Edelman since 2010, when the latter firm bought Texas agency Vollmer — which in turn had handled the Travelocity business since the brand launched in 1996. The review comes at time of significant change for Travelocity, which pioneered the online travel agency model, but has since fallen behind Expedia, Priceline and Orbitz. Earlier this year, Travelocity inked a deal by which market leader Expedia will power search results on its site. Travelocity brought in a new CEO to turnaround the business in 2011, but recent speculation suggests that parent company SABRE Holdings is preparing for an IPO. With that in mind, reports suggest that SABRE Holdings will attempt to improve its balance sheet, potentially by making cuts at Travelocity, which now accounts for less than 10 percent of its revenues. Despite the deal, Travelocity will continue its marketing efforts.  Edelman will defend its mandate, which covers the US and Canada. Travelocity director of public relations Joel Frey noted that the company had already begun talks with a group of contending agencies, and hopes to conclude the process by the end of the year. “The nature of PR and what we do as communicators has gone through a sea change in the last five to 10 years,” Frey told the Holmes Report. “The pitches we anticipate getting are going to be more than about great media relations and great relationships. We want to get a sense of how you integrate digital and content and all these things into a great PR programme.” Frey declined to comment on whether Travelocity is hoping to shift its positioning or perceptions of the brand. Instead, he said that the company wants to take its PR “up a notch.” “That’s really what it all comes down to,” explained Frey. “Edelman, to their credit, has done a great job - their team has been really consistent and professional but you reach a point in time in any business when it’s a smart move to take a look at what’s around.”
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