Expedia busts travel myths with its new campaign geared at millennials

Expedia is the latest marketer to suck up to millennials with a new campaign that it hopes will demystify the ins and outs of booking travel online.

Launched online and on mobile on Monday, “Expedia Interns” is a Web series by Expedia and agency 180LA starring “Jay and Stuart,” two actors essaying the roles of the company’s interns. Together, they use real data gathered by the portal to debunk travel myths in five videos.

Expedia’s robust social media team — which frequently holds chats online with its fans already — is behind the curtain. The team, through their intern avatars is encouraging users to tweet their questions at them using the hashtag #ExpediaInterns and responding to real tweets from travelers looking for the truth about booking online in Jay and Stuart’s voices.

“Expedia is the leader in online travel and this message reinforces our brand position as the travel experts,” said Vic Walia, senior director of brand marketing at Expedia. “We feel we have an opportunity to engage with a new, younger traveler who might be less familiar with the Expedia site. It is for this reason we taken this specific creative approach and have decided to launch this campaign exclusively online and on mobile.”

Like a latter day Felix Unger and Oscar Madison, Jay and Stuart are polar opposites that complement each other perfectly. Sporting a tie when others are in flannel, Jay is a young go-getter and the brain behind this travel tip video series. Stuart, on the other hand, is the bane of Jay’s existence, hardly interested in the tips and unintentionally and hilariously sabotaging his videos.

When Jay tries to explain whether booking flights with different companies is cheaper, Stuart blasts an airhorn in the background. When Jay attempts to tell users that Sunday is statistically is the best day to book a flight, Stuart upstages him by stealing leftovers from the company fridge.

The pretend-Expedia interns are also fielding questions on a microsite, so the inquisitive don’t need to be on Twitter to participate. It also houses the videos and displays the Twitter questions being posed to them on a feed. The five videos will run online and in mobile on YouTube, Hulu, CBS, Yahoo and other sites in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

In recent months, Expedia has become a giant conglomeration in the online travel-booking industry. It bought competitor Travelocity in January, and announced the acquisition of Orbitz last month. While Orbitz expands its portfolio to include CheapTickets, ebookers, and HotelClub, the Priceline group —  with Booking.com, Priceline.com, Kayak.com and Rentalcars.com — remains a strong competitor.

One way Expedia has battled competition is through innovative and personalized campaigns all along. “Find Yours,” in 2012 for instance, touched an emotional chord and allowed fans to create their own travel videos from their trip photos.

While Jason Clampet, head of content at Skift, said that Expedia had marketed itself well over the years, he was on the fence about this campaign. The five videos on YouTube had also performed averagely, with just about 7,800 views over the five days they’ve been posted.

“My worry is that it is too glossy — an old person’s idea of what young people like,” he said. “I think it could end up backfiring because it doesn’t appear authentic.”