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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Homeaway.com wants to save me from hotel stays.

In preparation for #BZBowl, I’m experiencing as many of the SuperBowl advertisers’ products & services as possible, comparing whether my service encounter lives up to the promises they make through marketing. Today’s #BZBowl Week post involves CareerBuilder.com.

Homeaway.com is back for the SuperBowl in 2011, after last year’s ad featuring Beverly D’Angelo and Chevy Chase reprising their roles as the vacationing Griswolds. They pre-released the 2011 ad, featuring a representative of The Ministry of Detourism, a government agency committed to saving vacations.

Interesting about this ad is that Homeaway that isn’t trying to compare favorably to their category, rather trying to convert vacation travelers from a different accommodations services category to a better option.

To pull it off, the ad empathizes with the traveler, both showing and explaining how hotel stays can cramp and otherwise ruin a family’s holiday and paid off with the line, “Space! Privacy! Freedom! Why hotel when you can home away?”

The ad promises that Homeaway will provide a superior experience to what you would find in a hotel at comparable cost., explaining that the Ministry of Detourism is committed to saving vacations by preventing families from “getting swindled because hotels hate your guts.” The reliability message is continued as the family moves down a moving walkway, surrounded by flat screens showcasing the multitude of accommodations options available.

Interactive marketing users find homeaway.com consistent with the service promises made in the ad. Reliability and empathy are reinforce through claims of “The world’s most trusted vacation rental site”, “The world's largest selection of vacation homes, condos, cabins & villas” and reinforcement of the favorable comparison to the hotel experience.

The user experience reflects the same themes and carries them a step further. Browsing for a European rental property for a future vacation with my wife, HomeAway offered more than 17,000 options in Spain alone, sortable by property type, location type, and travel style.

The experience provides further assurance to the quality of the properties they represent through detailed reviews of past travelers, tons of images of the properties and videos showcasing the accommodations and their surroundings.

Homeaway isn’t competing to be the best in their category, they’re trying to redefine their category and compete against what they position as an inferior experience. For me, at least, it was effective. For vacations, I’ve always consumed hotel experience. Homeaway has me considering the vacation rental alternative for the first time. As the company that made the alternative viable, they’ve got the inside track for my business.

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