In 2019 Expedia.com set out to be one of the most trusted and helpful brands in travel. After identifying podcasting as a new medium to be able to share our expertise and engage with a new audience of travelers, the communications team officially launched Out Travel the System in September of 2019. Fast forward to 2020, and we found ourselves in a unique situation – a travel brand during a global pandemic with lockdowns going into effect around the globe. We quickly pivoted with the following new objectives for Season 2 of Out Travel the System:
With the travel industry shaken with uncertainty during these unprecedented times, we took this opportunity to evolve the podcast to focus on delivering relevant and useful updates to travelers in order to educate, entertain and inform them with every episode. Season 2 goals were as follows:
Season 1 exposed three key themes in our audience behaviors:
We approached Season 2 with a commitment to staying true to our name by helping consumers navigate the travel system, which is complex and overwhelming.
Strategy: Deliver helpful tips, tricks and hacks to help travelers go, plan and dream with confidence by creating episodes that fell into three categories:
To reinforce our reputation as a thought leader in travel, we committed to using Expedia employees to personify the brand and showcase our industry knowledge and expertise. With tens of thousands of employees and access to industry partners ranging from hoteliers, airlines and activities, no other podcast was leveraging travel insiders at this scale. We also leveraged the power of Expedia’s data, extracting travel trends and tips from billions of transactions in order to help better inform the traveler.
Destination Deep Dives
With travel on hold, we created a series of evergreen episodes designed to keep travel top of mind while serving as a useful guide for traveling to a specific destination. Each destination episode followed the same format, including an Expedia local market expert as well as a third-party traveler to provide an authentic view of how to get the most out of a that specific country. Each episode touched on the best time to travel, the best cities to visit, the best foods to eat and everything in between. They were entertaining and informative and above all else, evergreen. Prior to each episode, we released a mini episode that spoke to the current travel restrictions for that destination to ensure travelers were armed with the right information.
Feeding Traveler Wanderlust
Recognizing that many of our listeners were feeling vacation deprived, we created a variety of episodes that were designed to feed their wanderlust. We used research from Expedia’s annual Vacation Deprivation Study which identified ways that travelers felt they could feel the joys of travel without traveling. This led to a series of episodes such as our Travel and Food episode with guest Nilou Motamed, an avid traveler and judge on Top Chef, as well as our Holiday themed show which featured guest Ron Oliver, who famously directed some of Hallmark’s most notable holiday movies.
Travel During a Global Pandemic
We wanted to inspire travelers, but knew we had a responsibility to keep listeners safe and informed. This was reflected in several episodes where we directly speak to the impact COVID-19 had on travel. Whether it was finding flexible bookings, reviewing health and safety guidelines or understanding how to cancel a booking – we tackled meaty topics we knew travelers needed to hear.
As consumers shifted from their daily commutes to work, to working from home, it's no surprise that podcast consumption numbers took a bit of a dip in 2020. Despite this and the fact that travel had come to a complete hault due to the pandemic, Out Travel the System outperformed Season 1, beating our goals set forth at the beginning of the season:
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