WTM – Sabre bought Lastminute.com for the brand

Travelocity boss Michelle Peluso has admitted the online agency bought Lastminute.com to compensate for Travelocity’s poor brand awareness in Europe.

The Sabre-owned online agency purchased Lastminute.com for £577 million in 2005, despite it spending millions on advertising for Travelocity.

President and chief executive Peluso told delegates at Travolution@WTM the group had failed to create a strong brand for Travelocity in Europe.

Despite spending millions on a media campaign starring travel journalist Alan Whicker the site did not have the same consumer recognition as rivals at the time, Lastminute.com, Ebookers and Expedia.

During the exclusive appearance, Puluso revealed: “We did not think we could scale the Travelocity brand in Europe, so [we] wanted to buy a company that had a great brand.

“Lastminute.com has done well in keeping its brand fresh and we at Travelocity are learning what it has done there.”

Despite this, Peluso and Lastminute chief executive Ian McCaig admitted they do not enjoy sharing some on the online agency’s more adventurous and often controversial advertising campaigns with their Sabre bosses.

Peluso also conceded globally Travelocity had focused too much on price and selling travel instead of the consumers’ experience, an area she said was Lastminute.com’s strength.

“At Travelocity we wrongly focused on being a seller and not providing a great leisure experiences, we have learnt from the Lastminute.com people in that,” Peluso said.

In the US the online agency has introduced a service guarantee which sees the agency offer customers support while on holiday.

The move was “grappled” with internal for 18 months but has led to improved financial performance as it has help to increase customer loyalty.

Peluso added Travelocity is considering introducing a premium level of service which customers would pay extra for.

She said it would include in-resort support as well as “cancelling home newspaper deliveries and talking to the Post Office about the customer’s post”.

“It would be an opt-in service,” she added. “We have not yet hit the ceiling for the level of service we can offer.”

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