HomeAway takes to the road for vacation campaign

HomeAway and MM2 launched a social media campaign that continued to raise the profile of Homeaway.com after the company's 2010 Super Bowl ad buy.

Client: HomeAway (Austin, TX)

Agency: MM2 Public Relations (Dallas, TX)

Campaign: "Great American Road Trip"

Duration: May - August 2010

Budget: $85,000

HomeAway and AOR MM2 launched a grassroots and social media campaign last summer that continued to raise the profile of vacation marketplace Homeaway.com after the company's inaugural 2010 Super Bowl ad buy. The ad parodied National Lampoon's 1983 film Vacation, and the “Great American Road Trip” campaign featured two brand ambassadors touring the country in a replica of the movie's “Family Truckster” car and staying in HomeAway vacation rentals.

“There was no better way to illustrate what we offer than to bring back this iconic car,” says HomeAway's senior director of PR Eileen Buesing, who adds that the tour helped strengthen relationships with consumer and vacation rental owners.

Strategy

A former HomeAway intern and a young man with mobile marketing experience served as ambassadors (a.k.a. the “Truckies”) and drove the car.

“The route was based as much as possible on consumer input to interact and engage with them on their ideas,” Buesing explains. “They helped us find fitting events and community connections.”

MM2 principal and creative director Larry Meltzer says moms are an important audience because they most often book vacations. Three high profile mommy bloggers (with whom HomeAway had previous relationships) joined the tour at various points. The ambassadors and bloggers communicated their experiences via blogs, videos, and social media outreach. Media relations and a Facebook sweepstakes also drove awareness. 

Tactics

The tour launched on Memorial Day in San Antonio and ran through the summer. Consumers followed along and made stop suggestions on RoadTrip.HomeAway.com and Twitter. By submitting a family vacation photo, consumers could also enter a Facebook sweepstakes to win one of three vacations.

The Truckies stayed in 36 vacation rentals and parked in high traffic areas and/or at local events in 35 states. They posted written and video accounts on a blog, Twitter, and Facebook.  Live engagement included photo ops, luggage stacking contests, and branded giveaways.

Joining the Truckies in major markets were mommy bloggers Mara Gorman, Kim Mance, and Jennifer Minor. All three blogged about their experiences and promoted the campaign on their social media pages.  The Truckies, who were extensively media trained, conducted interviews with local media and travel and consumer outlets while on the road.

Results

MM2 reports direct engagement more than 131,000 people. Buesing says 9,000 new fans Facebook fans, 1,000 new Twitter followers, and 16,000 HomeAway.com page views were garnered by the end of August. The Facebook contest drew 1,800 entries.

Media impressions topped three million, with an average of two placements in each major market visited.

Future

The team is developing plans to support this year's Super Bowl ad.

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