Cendant plans a midyear relaunch of Trip.com, the foundation of its much-anticipated travel portal, with a major marketing campaign and a host of new supplier agreements and cross-marketing deals with other Cendant brands.
The marketing blitz, which will be comparable in scope to those of the major online agencies, will seek to raise the consumer profile of Trip.com.
A spokeswoman for Trip Network, the Cendant affiliate that operates the Trip.com and CheapTickets.com sites, said the campaign might coincide with a deal involving a major nontravel portal, as well.
In response to a question regarding the likelihood of an acquisition, Jacob Stepan, recently named chief operating officer of Trip Network, noted Cendant`s “appetite” for purchases and said, “Something could pop up.”
Cendant acquired Galileo, including its Trip.com unit, for $1.8 billion and consolidator Cheap Tickets for $280 million in separate transactions in October.
The launch of the travel portal, initially slated for the fourth quarter, was delayed by the events of Sept. 11. For the travel portal, official noted that Trip.com will be the primary consumer brand.
Galileo will provide inventory to Trip.com. The consumer site will sell airline tickets, car rentals, hotel stays and vacation packages.
Cendant, the first non-airline supplier to own a CRS, doesn`t think the portal will hurt agents.
“Neither Trip.com nor CheapTickets.com is aggressively targeting those customers who are travel-agent comfortable,” a spokeswoman said.
“Initially, our priority for the network is to launch Trip.com effectively for consumers. As the business and partnerships develop, you`ll be seeing Trip.com more as [a series of] affiliated relationships with other travel sites. There will be more leveraging of technology and access to inventory.”
Trip Network`s management hails primarily from Cendant and Cheap Tickets—with Galileo noticeably absent. A spokeswoman added that many of the technical and product development staff came from Trip.com.