As far as travel brands go, Travelocity is one of the most recognized around the world, thanks to its infamous Roaming Gnome. Industry experts know that the online travel agency is just as prominent as many other popular names like the Four Seasons and Celebrity Cruises.
Branding helps customers identify and connect with the type of vacation company that suits their needs best. Whether they’re looking for luxury accommodations, affordable prices, or adrenalin-pumping adventures, there’s a company out there for every traveller’s tastes.
However, travellers who related best to Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome might soon be disappointed, as the fate of the company’s beloved mascot is uncertain.
If you are planning to enroll in travel and hospitality courses, or you have recently started your program, read on to learn more about Travelocity and the Roaming Gnome’s impending retirement.
Travelocity: An Online Travel and Tourism Sensation
In 1996, Travelocity became the first website to allow people to book their travel tickets online.
The company quickly began adding many more features to its website, including important travel destinations, reviews, weather information, and of course calendars allowing travellers to select flights based on their availabilities. As an early trail-blazer in the travel and tourism industry, Travelocity gained a name for itself as the online booking agency for travellers.
Eventually, several other online agencies gained popularity and provided Travelocity with some fierce competition.
The Story Behind the Travelling Gnome
To differentiate itself from competitors like Orbitz, Travelocity turned to its branding. The company wanted to promote a laid-back image that would resonate with vacation goers. In doing so, it drew inspiration from a popular travel prank.
For years, travellers would “kidnap” garden gnomes and bring them along during family vacations. Pictures of these gnomes posing in front of famous landmarks would be sent home to their rightful owners – with some stories even making headlines in local newspapers. Once the vacation was over, the gnomes would be returned home to their spots in the garden.
The roaming gnome prank seemed like the perfect fit for a viral travel and hospitality marketing campaign, and in 2004 McKinney, the North Carolina-based advertising agency, snapped it up and used it to promote Travelocity.
The Travelocity Gnome is a Travel and Tourism Star
The Travelocity Roaming Gnome officially began his career with ads that replicated the travelling gnome prank. The “where’s my gnome” campaign featured a fictional owner named Bill who searched for his wayward gnome as it travelled the world and encouraged others to book through Travelocity.
Over the years, the Roaming Gnome has grown in popularity and has been featured in countless television and newspaper ads. Additionally, fans of the travel icon can actually buy their very own Roaming Gnome merchandise on Travelocity’s website, and follow cheeky tweets on the Roaming Gnome’s official Twitter account.
Travelocity and the Impending Fate of the Roaming Gnome’s Adventures
Even with the success of the Roaming Gnome, Travelocity’s sales have continued to tumble and in January, the company was officially sold to Expedia.
While Expedia has so far kept its other travel brands like Hotwire and Hotels.com intact, Travelocity is currently re-examining its brand and has launched a creative review of McKinney, the ad company that created the Roaming Gnome for Travelocity. Whether the creative review will ultimately lead to Travelocity abandoning its Roaming Gnome is still being debated.