Travelocity to soldier on within Lastminute group

Travelocity managing director Ned Booth has insisted the brand will continue to play a pivotal role in the Lastminute.com group despite a reduction in its marketing budget and intense speculation surrounding its future.

Booth told Travolution the online agency will receive a war chest of “several million pounds” and will relaunch in the new year with functionality and product enhancements.

But he admitted the investment had been scaled back on previous years.

Defending the move, Booth claimed the recent high-profile Alan Wicker TV advertising campaign has done its job in raising the Travelocity profile.

“Brand awareness has risen from 30% to 80% over the past 18 months which clearly is a marked improvement,” said Booth. “We will of course continue to invest in the brand but it has been pulled back.”

He declined to reveal how much the budget had been cut, adding the 2006 investment would be “under five million but more than one.”

“We’ll be in newspapers and on transport but last year was driven by our TV presence and you won’t see that next year,” said Booth. “But we will have an opportunity to go back and request additional funds if we experience good results.”

Underpinning Travelocity’s development in the new year will be a drive to cross sell to customers using Lastminute, said Booth.

With the majority of Travelocity bookings for flights, Booth said it was time to broaden the product range.

“We now have the technology which allows us to access Lastminute’s city breaks and package content,” said Booth. “For example, we have fantastic global product but are not very strong in the Med. But Lastminute own Medhotels.com so we can access that product. We are also bringing in Eurostar.

“Our goal is to corner the package business and cross sell a range of products to our customers.” Booth denied it would cannibalise Lastminute’s business.

“The cross over of customers has been much smaller than we anticipated,” he claimed, emphasising Lastminute’s lifestyle focus.

Booth added that since a soft launch of the site earlier this month, package sales have doubled. He declined to reveal numbers.

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