Internova Goes After OTAs in New Consumer-Facing Marketing

“If machines can’t dream, how will they plan your vacation?” That’s one of the questions posted by Internova Travel Group as part of its new consumer-facing marketing campaign launched this week. The digital out-of-home (DOOH) campaign will include long- and short-form video, paid and organic social advertisements and more. The core concept being: Online travel agencies (OTAs) will never get to know you as well as a human travel advisor—and they certainly won’t be there for you when things go wrong while traveling.

In a press event this week prior to the launch, Brent Rivard, chief marketing officer at Internova, said, “We may never again have a more attentive audience to hearing the benefits of booking with a human being.” Meaning, consumers became all too aware of how difficult it was to cancel or rebook their travel plans at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The cost of getting it wrong was really significant,” he added.

“The COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the horrors of travel disruption in a new way,” said J.D. O’Hara, chief executive officer of Internova Travel Group. “Individuals and families left stranded with no refunds and limited support gave way to a climate of extreme frustration. Many realized that getting travel wrong—personal or business—can have very real, very strenuous consequences.

You can view one of the "Book Human" videos here:

For the “Go Human. Book Human.” campaign, Rivard said the challenge was to reframe booking travel from “self-serve” to full-serve.” A secondary goal was to ignite a sense of pride and energy within Internova’s advisor base. The objective? “Make people fall in love with the idea of booking travel with people.”

Creatives include various taglines, such as “0% of bots speak to the manager for your” or “Machines book thousands of travel trips. But they haven’t been on a single one.”

The marketing will initially last 12 weeks with a focus on New York City and Los Angeles (and the surrounding 25 miles for each). The ads will target those aged 35 to 64 within the top 25 percent of ZIP codes for household income. This targeting leverages mobile device and location data to find the unique audience. The advertisements send consumers to BookHuman.Travel—a new website from Internova. The tagline on the site reads, “We want to change the way you think about booking travel.” It also allows consumers to peruse a handpicked selection of Internova travel advisors. Consumers can browse the advisors by location, travel destinations, interests and languages. The current rollout has 33 advisors in the program and more will be added in time, Angie Licea, president of Global Travel Collection, said.

Licea added that there is no charge for advisors to be part of the program; rather, this is one way Internova is helping advisors build their business back.

“With the growth of direct-to-consumer over the past year, this platform gives the customer relevant and meaningful choice when looking for a travel advisor,” Internova said in a press announcement. “The booking website elevates the experience well beyond chat bots and algorithms and harnesses the power of face-to-face human connection integrated with the accessibility and immediacy of the digital sphere. The user interface design is optimized for both desktop and mobile.”

 Internova Travel Group “Go Human. Book Human.”

In Internova’s announcement, it noted that a travel advisor can save “the average do-it-yourselfer” time and money while also offering peace of mind. Clients might additionally benefit from the personalized attention, “such as an upgrade to a premium cabin on a flight, to a welcome basket waiting for them and their family in their hotel room.”

In all, Internova represents more than 62,000 travel advisors in over 6,000 company-owned and affiliated locations worldwide.

Internova’s “Go Human. Book Human.” campaign was developed in partnership with Broken Heart Love Affair. The agency was chosen as part of a competitive process, along with WaveMaker as the media agency. Development of the web experience was led by Broken Heart Love Affair’s sister agency, Lifelong Crush.

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