After almost a decade as a successful wholesale accommodation business, was ready for a renewed focus on the direct to consumer market. They called in the outrageous ex-footballer Warwick Capper and scored some outrageous results.


After almost a decade as a successful wholesale accommodation business, was ready for a renewed focus on the direct to consumer market. The Flight Centre owned brand underwent a consumer driven website rebuild and relaunched with a cheeky new brand image. Spearheaded by General Manager John Feenaghty, who joined in 2008 and Marketing Manager Emma Gilleland, the new brand and B2C website launched in October 2010.

OBJECTIVES objective with the re launch was to gain market share in a highly competitive online accommodation industry. Prior to 2011 their business mix was largely B2B via the Flight CentreLtd network – to remain competitive, all aspects of the business were analysed, including site usability, rates and product range. To gain cut through quickly, focused on what consumers ultimately want when shopping online – finding a good value accommodation deal, quickly and easily. The new campaign was designed to target the budget and price conscious end of the market rather than high end or middle of the road.


To convey ‘cheap’ positioning within the market, a new ‘cheap and easy’ brand positioning and tagline was developed. is cheap on price, offering good value deals and the new website is easy to navigate and transact on. The online accommodation industry is highly competitive and in some ways it is a commoditised product. Whilst not unique to the market place, the cheap positioning was further enhanced by removing all booking fees for consumers – so the price you see is the price you pay. The key brand strategy was developed in-house, but turned to a boutique external agency for the creative execution.

To complement this strategy and launch the new brand to the market, developed a campaign that included marketing and PR activities plus a brand ambassador with a strong profile.


To bring the cheap and easy tagline to life, decided to enlist controversial ex AFL player Warwick Capper onboard as their campaign face. What were they thinking? John said, “Ultimately we wanted to be irreverent, offbeat, fun and cheeky. For us it’s all about living up to our tagline and letting the public know we’re out there. It’s increasingly difficult to get cut through with a relatively small budget. By focussing our efforts on the eastern seaboard we have managed to gain increased brand awareness over a short time. used Warwick in TV, outdoor and seamlessly translated this into a range of digital formats across display networks, email newsletters and on-site landing page creative. These have been a great conversation starter and talking point amongst the public, as Warwick plays up to being ‘cheap and easy’. has embraced social media with open arms, integrating a campaign into their overall strategy.  You Tube, Facebook and Twitter became a key driver for sharing their new TVC’s. Social Media ties in with offline and online promotions, ads and sales, making it a vital communication tool to engage with customers. John said, “Social media is an integeral part of our marketing strategy, with added SEO benefits and the ability to reach new audiences that we were not tapping into via other channels.”

PR took a three phase approach to the campaign – the first stage focused on courting the media to create hype around the brand relaunch. With Warwick as the brand face, the PR team embarked on an extensive media teaser campaign, which included sending out a number of promotional items to Australia’s top travel journalists, unbranded, to keep them guessing who they were from. The second stage was a consumer PR campaign which was kick started with a stunt in Sydney’s CBD, involving the public having their picture taken with Warwick for a chance to win a holiday. The third stage was to profile the directors of and arrange for John to comment on industry trends.


Since relaunching with an integrated brand marketing strategy across all channels, coupled with continuous improvements to usability of the site, has achieved a 70% increase in sales on last year.John said, “We’ve found the new tagline sums up what the modern traveller wants in a nutshell from their accommodation booking experience. By using Warwick to speak to our customers, we’ve reinforced the message of what we’re about and how we differ from our competitors.” has managed to gain a following of over 14,000 Facebook fans, which is more than many of their competitors. They were able to grow this important fan base through Facebook CPC advertising, site-wide promotion and engaging content such as competitions and giveaways. John said, “When we partner with properties to give away free nights to our fans, this typically drives between 60-80% of traffic to a property’s page on for the period of the promotion. This is a significant amount of traffic which benefits both our partners and the overall site.”

Warwick Capper became the talk of the town with his new alignment with A challenge was to manage his wild personality and how that reflected the brand.

When evaluating the campaign, John comments that in hindsight he would have let the site go live for longer than one week before launching the offline activity, “Not having the site live meant that initially we couldn’t see clearly the effect of the offline activity when it came to evaluating what worked and what didn’t.” Delays in the site development meant that feeds into partner and comparison sites such as Trip advisor, Hotels Combined and Hotels Accommodation were delayed and as this formed a key part of the strategy to drive highly qualified traffic, so the initial results were not as high as expected.  John also said, “Some of the more expensive activity on the display performance networks didn’t have an immediate ROI but we have seen a clear increase in brand terms through search and direct traffic when these networks were running.”

In terms of search engine optimisation (SEO), focuses on updating the website frequently with unique content and developing a strong network of backlinks from trusted partners.   So far this has increased organic search traffic by 53% since September 2010.

In terms of PR, the value of the campaign is currently sitting at over $800,000.

Belle Kwan
BY Belle Kwan ON 29 July 2011
Assistant editor, Marketing magazine &
A marketer's dream who believes everything she sees on TV.
Advertising is not evil, it is an artform and a science.