In July 2023, Expedia Group launched a game-changing new loyalty program called One Key, which unified the company’s three flagship brands of Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo. The highly anticipated rewards program had been nearly two years in the making and rewards consumers for any way they travel.
Though Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo have each established themselves as stand-alone travel brands, many consumers do not know they belong to the same family. The launch of One Key was a critical milestone for the company that would connect the brands in the minds of consumers and encourage them to book trips across all three travel apps.
For the launch of One Key, the communications team was tasked with raising mass awareness of the new program and educating consumers and press about its benefits. In addition to announcing the news, the team set out to maximize consumer touchpoints and create a buzzworthy launch moment to mark the occasion and celebrate the launch.
The team devised a fully integrated, multi-channel strategy for launch week beginning July 17.
Earned Media Blitz
To kick off the campaign, the team pitched business, consumer, broadcast, travel, and loyalty media under embargo and hosted pre-briefings. USA Today broke the news with an exclusive story. Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern made his network debut on “CBS Mornings,” followed by appearances and round tables with CNBC “Squawk Box,” “Good Morning America,” The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Fast Company, WIRED, Reuters, and TIME Magazine.
Brian Kelly, founder of The Points Guy, acted as a third-party spokesperson for a satellite media tour resulting in 46 segments about One Key.
Nasdaq Opening, Times Square, and Empire State Building
To mark the milestone, Expedia Group participated in the Nasdaq Opening Bellringing Ceremony while our media team took over Times Square with hour-long placements from the One Key creative campaign.
The social team shared the news on LinkedIn, while EG’s CEO, Chief Technology Officer, President of Brands, and President of Business Services celebrated the achievement with LinkedIn posts curated to their respective expertise.
The Social team secured an organic Instagram post from @empirestatebldg (810K) featuring Grammy-award-winning artist Anderson .Paak and Expedia Brands President Jon Gieselman “lighting up” the Empire State Building in Expedia, Hotels.com and Vrbo’s brand colors.
The team launched with a bang by:
Sharing a collaboration Instagram post from Expedia, Hotels.com, and Vrbo announcing the launch of One Key and educating consumers that the three brands are connected.
Flooding social feeds with positive sentiment around One Key by inviting all three brands’ Instagram followers to share what trip they would unlock for a chance to win a year’s worth of OneKeyCash™, the new rewards currency.
Launching a Facebook group, One Key Lounge, providing program tips and a dedicated space for questions.
Hosting a Q&A with Brian Kelly in the One Key Lounge.
Leveraging employees for corporate Instagram and LinkedIn channels, such as a video series describing “One Key in One Word” and going behind the scenes with employees who built the program.
Establishing ownership of the #OneKey hashtag through a co-branded One Key #ExpediaChat on X, an award-winning tactic engaging millions in travel-centric discussions.
Leveraging content creator partnerships to produce 15+ educational Instagram Reels explaining how to maximize rewards.
Integrating One Key messaging into the “Expedia Explains” TikTok series.
Providing social listening insights to inform marketing plans and product updates.
Four hundred celebrities, influencers, and press attended the invite-only event at the Top of The Standard featuring a performance from DJ Pee .Wee (Anderson .Paak). To extend the event’s reach to social, the team executed 20+ interviews featuring guests like Olympian Shaun White (2.1M), Actress & BÉIS founder Shay Mitchell (36.6M), and Antoni Porowski from “Queer Eye” (4.2M). Curated questions provided each brand with snackable Instagram Stories, with categories including Travel Firsts (i.e., first time on plane), This or That (i.e., boutique hotel or mountainside Vrbo) and more. Plus, guests who signed up for One Key received Platinum status.
Protect Launch Strategy: As a result of diligent social listening and delicately nurtured media relationships, chatter during the pre-launch phase was minimal; no stories were published by top-tier loyalty press prematurely.
Owned social generated 133M impressions and 350K+ engagements; maintaining 96% positive sentiment.
Positive sentiment around One Key surged 467% during launch week.
OneKeyCash™ contest drove 25.8M in earned media reach from Travel+Leisure, Yahoo!, Thrillist, MSN Canada, garnering 25K Instagram followers and 13.7K entries.
Cross-brand #ExpediaChat trended #5 on X, reaching 59M people, ~2× the July Expedia-only edition.
One Key Lounge Facebook group gained 7K members.
@ExpediaGroup produced 1.3M impressions and 350 LinkedIn mentions.
@empirestatebldg (810K followers) shared an organic post.
Expedia was featured on all major networks, CBS, NBC, and ABC, reaching millions of viewers nationwide.
The team secured 100+ pieces of coverage in top-tier publications such as USA Today, CNN, CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Travel+Leisure, TimeOut, and more.
Resulting coverage boosted Share of Voice against competitors Booking.com and Airbnb by 97%.
410+ guests attended the event, surpassing goal by 45%.
50+ press attended, including The Associated Press, CBS, Bloomberg, CNN, NYTimes, Today Show, and Variety.
45 placements in entertainment press including People, Extra, E!, Extra, THR, WWD, and DailyMail; value exceeded $8M in earned media, with a potential reach of 897M.
88 social posts shared by guests at the launch celebration drove a potential reach of 88M.
345 attendees signed up for One Key or an upgrade to Platinum status; surpassing goal by 255%.