Anyone who has used the online website Travelocity has an idea of the services that it offers the public. It’s an American travel agency that provides online assistance for people who are making plans to travel from one location to another. It’s used for business, pleasure and all types of other trips to secure air travel and lodging accommodations and much more. The service seems straightforward, but here are 20 things that you didn’t know about Travelocity.
1. It was established in 1995
Travelocity has been around for almost 24 years. It started as an idea that a team at Worldview had about extending their online travel database in 1994 and within a year, the site was launched. Worldview partnered with Sabre Holdings to develop the website that would be dedicated to linking travelers with information that allowed them to compare prices and other relevant information about travel services and booking reservations in one convenient location. The program launched for the 1995-96 year.
2. Travelocity was a pioneer in online travel assistance
Travelocity was the first of its kind to offer a website where consumers could compare the prices of tickets for air travel, hotel room rates, rental car fees, cruise ship trips, and vacation packages. Not only could they view and compare rates, but they could also find more details about rooms, amenities, and reviews of these service providers. The site also allowed them to purchase these services quickly and easily from the site.
3. How Travelocity finds the cheapest airfare
Travelocity compares the prices of airfare across the airline carriers throughout the entire world. It searches through the databases of airlines to locate special deals that you might not otherwise be able to find. Sometimes airlines have last minute offers on flights that are not fully booked. They want to fill all of the seats possible so they sometimes offer tremendous discounts for seats on underbooked flights to make the trip more profitable for their company. It’s a great way to find reduced rates for airfare and it saves consumers hours of search time looking for these deals that can otherwise be hard to find. If you go to the airline carrier’s website on your own or call to book a flight, they’re going to try to sell the full fare flight reservations first so it’s a good idea to use the Travelocity site instead.
4. Travelocity acquired Site59 in 2002
Travelocity was the first to offer comprehensive booking and travel services online but it wasn’t long before there were similar sites springing up on the internet. Site59 is a travel specialist site that offered similar services. In a brilliant move to expand their services and consolidate the efforts of the two companies, Travelocity acquired Site59 which added to their repertoire of specialty services. It was an ideal situation because, under Travelocity, Site59 had a more financial backing to fully develop their offerings. They specialized in last minute travel deals and arrangements which brought a greater capacity to serve last-minute travelers for Travelocity. It was a win-win deal that benefited both companies as well as the customers that they serve.
5. Travelocity executive staff received an infusion of new blood
It’s usually a good business move to bring new perspectives into a large company from time to time. It allows for better strategizing to keep up with changing times and trends in consumer demands. Travelocity received this boost in the arm when they acquired Site59 as many of their executive staff members were brought on board in senior management positions with their new parent company. They welcomed a new Chief Marketing Officer, a President for North America operations, a Chief Technology Officer, and a Senior Vice President and General Counsel member.
6. Travelocity acquired lastminute.com and further expanded in 2002
The year 2002 signaled a period of major growth and expansion for Travelocity. In addition to taking on Site59, they also acquired lastminute.com. The amount it cost to secure the multifaceted travel company was $577 million. In the deal to bring lastminute.com into the fold, they also got allhotels.com, a company that was founded by Richard Irwin in 1997. He had previously incorporated Online Travel Corporation into allhotels.com just before selling to Travelocity. This marked another significant expansion for the popular travel site.
7. Travelocity formed the habit of importing high performing executives
Part of the success of Travelocity is because they had the foresight to bring top performing executives on board from the companies that they acquired. This was an ideal situation because the employees were already familiar with the inner workings of their companies and they know how to make them successful without the need for further orientation or training. This saved a lot of time and money and allowed the new services to be offered through Travelocity with no interruption in services to loyal customers who were already using the site. This also brought a lot of new traffic to the Travelocity site through their new acquisitions.
8. Travelocity gained an exec from the competition
In April of 2011, a position as CEO and president opened up in Travelocity as the former executive moved to a new position with Sabre and Gilt Groupe. Carl Sparks was installed into the post that Hugh Jones had vacated. Sparks was a former chief marketing officer at Expedia so he brought a wealth of information along with him that would assist Travelocity in better competing against Expedia because of the new information that they would have about the inner workings of Expedia. It let them know a few of the competitor’s secrets and how to best forge ahead.
9. They launched an iconic advertising campaign in 2004
How many of you remember the little gnome that appeared in Travelocity advertising commercials? The campaign was officially called the Where Is My Gnome campaign. The little guy was cute and he provided a visual that consumers could easily connect with the services and the brand name.
10. Travelocity sold one of its affiliates in 2012
The powerful online travel site that had been making acquisitions left and right began selling some of its companies. In 2012, it sold Zuji for a price tag of $25 million to Webjet. This would be the beginning of yet more sales for the company that would follow.
11. Travelocity Business was sold also
In the summer of 2013, Travelocity, which was a part of the Travelocity family was up for sale as well. A company named BCD Travel, based in Atlanta, Georgia purchased Travelocity business, a corporate travel agency. The amount of the transaction was not disclosed.
12. More changes came for Travelocity in 2013
There was a flurry of selling and change for Travelocity in 2013. They made the announcement that they had struck an agreement with Expedia, Inc., to power their Canadian and United States websites in August of that year. There were a lot of changes taking place within Travelocity this year.
13. Travelocity had a shut-down in 2013 as well
It’s never a good sign when a company starts selling off its interests and components of its core. In addition to all of the other changes that were taking place within the company, Travelocity made the decision in November of 2013 to shut down the IgoUgo website it owned.
14. Leadership changed for Travelocity in 2014
In May of 2014, Carl Sparks, the CEO left his position with the company. The job was split up among two of its top executives. Roshan Mendis, who had been serving as the President of Travelocity was appointed to manage the site’s operations throughout the Americas, and lastminute.com’s CEO, Matthew Crummack was appointed to take over the management of the European operations.
15. Lastminute.com was sold in 2014
The selling continued in 2014 for Travelocity. Bravofly Rumbo, a Swiss company purchased lastminute.com from Travelocity for a price of 76 million in British pounds. This was a significant event in the history of the company that had once been on a campaign of acquisition. Now it was offloading companies in a steady stream.
16. Sabre Corporation sold Travelocity in 2015
The final sale that was made by the owner of Travelocity, which was Sabre Corporation took place in January of 2015. They sold the company for $280 million to Expedia, Inc. They still continued to operate under the umbrella of their new parent company as Travelocity with no disruption in the services they had been providing for their customers.
17. They switched their media handling in 2015
Directly after Travelocity was sold to Expedia, more changes were made internally. The company had formerly gone with Publics Groupe’s Zenith Media for their media handling. Under new directives, they let the old provider go and instead went with Assembly in New York as their official media handler.
18. They went back to what worked for the 2015-16 year
Travelocity made yet more important changes at the end of 2015 that would carry over into the 2016 year. They relaunched a popular program called the Travel for Good program. It targeted people who were interested in volunteering as participants in various travel programs initiated by a variety of nonprofit organizations including the American Hiking Society, Globe Aware and Habitat for Humanity. The program offered the volunteers a grant in the amount of $5,000 each for their efforts and participation in the programs. They launched a second campaign in 2016 which was called Wander Wisely. This new advertising strategy brought back the little roaming gnome and it also offered what the company called the “customer first guarantee.” For this campaign, they changed the tagline that was formerly “Go and smell the roses” to “Wander Wisely.”
19. Travelocity ran into issues with the U.S. DOT in 2012
2012 was a year of controversies for Travelocity. In July, they were found in violation of some of the Department of Transportation’s rules. Upon investigation, there were issues found with Travelocity’s flexible dates stool because it didn’t include some of the additional surcharges that many carriers included with international airfares. The DOT had previously mandated that all such charges were required to be listed in advertising of fares. This not only applied to the carriers, but also to any affiliates who were advertising the services. The omission of these surcharges cost Travelocity $180,000 in fines. Another issue that they found with the Travelocity site was that the site only listed information about the requirement of some carriers for their passengers to present paper tickets which would cost them an additional delivery fee of $29.95 per ticket on the last page of the customer information package. Although the information was there, it wasn’t in a place that was readily visible and in many cases, the customer would not see it until after making the purchase. It was not a good year for Travelocity because of multiple citations that not only cost the company in fines, but the tactics they were using also damaged their reputation with customers, causing some to avoid using the services and go to other providers.
20. Another big controversy hit Travelocity in 2012
Travelocity faced yet another huge issue when they attempted to offer a coupon code worth $200 to all who attended that National Federation of the Blind’s yearly conference that was held in Dallas, Texas. After the organization (NFB) posted the code on their Twitter account, they failed to mention that there was an attendee restriction. It was retweeted by Travelocity and the company didn’t catch the error. They left it up on their Twitter site for a full day before deleting it, but it as too late. The posting of the code with the error in it had already been placed on multiple message boards and travel blogs and there were several ineligible travelers who were using the code. Travelocity took it upon themselves to cancel every trip that had used the code except for those used by the eligible conference attendees for whom it was originally intended. Needless to say, this angered the customers who thought that they were getting a good deal through the site when they were informed that there was a mistake made and that their trips were being abruptly canceled. This had a huge impact on the reputation of Travelocity and it generated a maelstrom of customer complaints. The backlash over the controversy was immense and it came at a time when the company had already started to sell off its holdings.