The aim was to inspire travel through interesting local insight and beautiful photography and to
deliver this to consumers in an innovative and engaging way. Expedia and Metro produced tablet
city guides which significantly pushed the boundaries in terms of newsbrand tablet content. The
work demonstrates the creative possibilities of tablet advertising and showcases the significance of
this platform for both publishers and brands. The campaign was extremely well received and
Expedia.co.uk saw sales increases to specific destinations featured in the guides.
Background and Objectives
Expedia is one of the UK’s leading online travel agents, but 2012 saw it losing some of its spark with
its core, upmarket consumers with an observed decline in brand equity. This had been
predominantly driven by a strong price-led approach across the year. Although this promotional
strategy was successful at driving short term sales, it was at the expense of the longer term health of
the brand. As a result, we needed to re-connect with our core higher spending ABC1 audience, who
travel more frequently, as opposed to those just looking for a holiday bargain. Our insight focused on
two key elements:
We now live in a true holiday review culture, where extensive travel research is the norm.
Travellers are now spending an average of 42 hours in the travel cycle; however, the majority
of this time is spent outside the “booking” phase (nVision, 2013; Think Travel with Google,
Research from Expedia highlighted this further; showing that people were increasingly using
their site as a travel search & comparison engine, but often went on to book elsewhere.
Subsequently we realised there was a huge opportunity to engage consumers and establish stronger
memory links and loyalty during the important ‘research and inspiration’ phase, rather than just
focusing on the latter booking stage.
Expedia has historically invested heavily in newsbrands, using National Press to drive sale and brand
messaging through display ads in the papers and on tablet. The role for newsbrands has always been
to raise awareness of Expedia in the travel market and ultimately to drive bookings.
We saw the potential to use some of the display budget to run a partnership and work with one
newsbrand to create content for Expedia’s core audience and considerers, and also to tap into some
of this time spent “travel researching.” Metro reaches over 3 million Urbanites daily through the
paper, over 60K on tablet and mobile devices and won Newspaper App of the Year in 2012.
Insight and Strategy
The challenge was to position Expedia as the inspiration behind travel and city breaks, rather than
just as the booking agent and to show innovation within the emerging tablet market. At the
Newsworks Tablet conference in 2012, Andrew Warner (Senior Marketing Director) revealed that
more than 10% of Expedia transactions now happened through a mobile device, and this has been
increasingly significant over the last year, which was an important piece of insight.
The tablet city guides are travel inspiration and “Through a Different Lens” was then born as a
concept for the guides. The content focused on uncovering hidden gems in the chosen destinations,
which were revealed by a city “host.”
Expedia decided which cities to push and put together incentivised deals to the dedicated
destinations, running in the same weeks as the guides published. Delete Digital Agency then built
and developed the content into city guides which were stored within Metro’s newsstand. It was the
collaboration between Expedia’s marketing team, Metro’s brand partnerships department, Delete
and PHD which ultimately made this partnership so successful.
Expedia signed off four destination guides to run in January 2013. Monday is a significant day for
travel advertisers and January is a key month, so the guides published on every Monday of the
month. We ran a page advertorial covering off the destination in the paper and encouraging readers
to download the guide. Metro also pushed the campaign through social media and cobranded print
and tablet ads. Alongside this Expedia and Metro ran an online competition to win £500 Expedia
vouchers to help with the January blues!
The guides sat within Metro’s app as standalone specials. The opening page was an eye-catching
video of different shots from the destination. There was then an introduction from the host, which
led into “48 hours to explore….” Within this content was stunning photography, as well as links to
book certain hotels/experiences through Expedia. The map was interactive, allowing consumers to
plan itineraries around the city with a filter depending on whether you were interested in culture,
eating, nightlife or shopping. The final page linked through to the competition and to the exclusive
destination offers from Expedia.
The Metro partnership ran alongside a standard display campaign which ran across National Press.
The overall objective of the guides was a branding exercise to inspire and educate consumers to
travel. This city guide campaign only ran with Metro – there was no other marketing push to drive
these destinations and yet we saw some fantastic results following the January campaign.
There were 25,525 competition entries to win a £500 Expedia Hotel voucher with 16K entries in the
first week, which was a great result. Through this Expedia collected data opt ins from over 4,500
In total there were over 600,000 views of the guides and over 18,000 interactions with the map,
which had the longest dwell times. There were also over 200 social media shares about the
Metro readers spent a total of 1,763 hours reading Expedia’s City Guides (that’s 10 weeks!)
The content was so well received that Metro received emails and phone calls from readers,
desperate to access the guide tablet content.
With these results, we planned phase two of the campaign and another eight guides with
destinations ranging from Ibiza to Las Vegas. We learned that the map was the most popular part of
the guides with consumers. We also saw an opportunity to increase reach by including mobile as
well, which added another 30K daily downloads. Finally we increased the advertorial page to a DPS
for better standout within the paper. This was designed by Delete and Metro together, to ensure
continuity in terms of the content. The second phase was also tweaked to fit in with Expedia’s
launch of “Travel Yourself Interesting.” Little-known facts about each destination were included
within all channels, to work with the display copy running in print, online and outdoor. “Travel
Yourself Interesting” is all about showcasing what makes real travel interesting and the guides
seamlessly fitted in with this messaging by giving consumers free, educative access to destinations
and reinforcing the inspirational and interesting association.
We are waiting on the results of Phase Two – we will have figures and the results of the research in
The results of our campaign illustrate the importance of newsbrands in influencing destination
selection and inspiring travel. By combining both traditional media and the iPad app, we are able
to reach a broad base of our target audience, whilst leveraging the diversity of newsbrand
platforms to bring these destinations to life. For Expedia delivering information and inspiration in
the way best suited to the different devices our customers are using at that specific moment in
time ensures we provide the level of service our customers expect in a rapidly evolving world. So,
it’s particularly important that our marketing efforts can flex to the needs of our audience too.