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New Expedia Advertising Uses Technology to Bring Travel Destinations to Sick Children

Expedia is a travel company. They want you to book your next trip with them. That’s their agenda. But this new film/stunt from Expedia called “Dream Adventures” in partnership with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital does not ask you for your business. In fact, it gives us reason to believe that the brand is bigger than the transaction. And in the process makes us want to book our next trip with Expedia.

Curious? Here’s a short film explaining the idea. Then we’ll break down why this idea is so powerful.

A Brand Wonderfully Obsessed

There is nothing more attractive to consumers than a brand who knows who it is and isn’t afraid to stand steadfast. The “Dream Adventures” idea demonstrates Expedia’s intense appreciation for the transformative power of travel.

These kids are sick and can’t travel, but to Expedia that does not mean these kids can’t still be transformed by inspiring destinations.

By using technology to bring the kids’ respective dream locations — wild horses, an archaeological dig, snorkeling, etc. — to them, Expedia demonstrates they are not only about the booking, they are about the personal transformations their bookings cause.

Even if it means spending their own money to bring the destinations to these kids. In this way, the brand rises above the transaction and into much more valuable and emotional territory.

Real-Time Makes It A Real Time

The video above is the “making of” the Dream Adventures idea. Here’s the film for general consumption and awareness:

I was half-expecting that the surround-visual experience would come in the form of virtual reality goggles. Not realtime, but still immersive. Would have been pretty cool.

But not to Expedia.

The fact these experiences were brought to these kids in real time showed just how far Expedia would go to replicate an actual traveling experience. The kids could see as the destination as it was approached, they could interact with those on the other end, ask questions and engage just as if the kids were actually there.

The dream locations were conceived in advance, of course, but the kids witnessed these experiences as they unfolded in real time. Which only added to the realism of the transformation in which Expedia believes so strongly.

Now, most of us watching this film are not sick children at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. We can actually go to these places if we want. Don’t you believe that Expedia truly values — if not celebrates — the power of transformation through travel, after watching these films?

The Call To Action Is A Calling

The call to action, “Donate your Expedia+ points at,” is in harmony with the entire message. The brand completely avoided asking for our business and instead asked its customers to donate earned loyalty points to help pay for these amazing technological adventures with the children at St. Jude.

That simple act does three things for the brand: 1) it helps defray the cost of these adventures; 2) it gives its customers a direct way to help these sick children; 3) it tells everyone else that it has a points system to earn loyalty on travel.

That’s a pretty hard-working call to action.

It’s ironic. Years ago Expedia ended their TV spots with, “Where you book matters.” But they never really gave us a good reason why. It was just a line. With “Dream Adventures” Expedia trumps booking altogether and demonstrates that Expedia matters.

And that’s a much more inspirational destination for this brand.


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