Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Resurrection of ReadyRooms - New life for former Qantas online hotels brand

In July 2004, Qantas proudly announced the launch of ReadyRooms (another announcement story here). An online last minute hotel booking system to take on Wotif, Lastminute.com.au (then owned by travel.com.au now owned by Wotif) and RatestoGo (owned by Orbitz). Then sometime around late 2006 early 2007 the ReadyRooms brand disappeared from Qantas sites. It was replaced with a generic "Qantas Hotels" brand. I noticed the brand confusion in this review post of the Qantas online hotels product.

I have just discovered that the ReadyRooms brand and product is back. I spotted a banner advert for the new site and clicked through. Subsequently I have seen a post over at the Publicis Digital site (an advertising firm) saying that they launched the campaign for the new site on October 21 2009.

This new version of ReadyRooms is not being operated by Qantas. Instead, the brand is part of Jetset Travelworld - Australia's number 3 offline travel company. But this does not mean that Qantas has complete divorced itself from ReadyRooms. In June 2008 Jetset Travelworld bought Qantas Holidays off Qantas in exchange for Qantas taking a 58% stake in Jetset (PDF press release here). The "new" ReadyRooms a look, feel and colouring that is not at all like Qantas so there is a clear desire to establish a new and separate brand. But the search results, pricing and hotels are exactly the same as the Qantas Hotels product. Like the Qantas version Jetset's ReadyRooms charges at $4.95 booking fee (called a credit card fee) [note - no fee charged on debit cards. Just credit cards]. Critically - unlike ReadyRooms, the Qantas version of the product comes with frequent flyer miles. In other words Jetset's ReadyRooms is the same product as the Qantas Hotel's product but with less benefits. Not sure that will work.

Jetset have also launched ReadyFlights to sell air. Clearly Jetset have decided their strategy is to go online with a whole new brand approach to get around frachisee issues.


Kristi said...

From the Publicis:
"This weekend Mojo & ZenithOptimedia launched a campaign for Jetset Travelworld Group’s new website Ready Rooms.com with a TVC, performance media and a complimentary paid search campaign."

Has anyone seen the TVC or the performance media campaign?

A quick check on Google also shows very little SEM activity. Apart from branded terms, I couldn't find ready rooms anywhere.

A quick check of Bing shows they haven't even bothered with branded terms at all.

I think Ready Rooms must be taking the softly softly approach. It would be interesting to know the size of their media launch budget

Also, "Ready Rooms offers fantastic deals on hotels and, unlike most other travel sites, you can book up to 12 months in advance."

Most other travel sites??? The agency may need to get out more. 12 months in advance is hardly a point of differentiation these days.

Tim Hughes said...

@Kristi - great comments. Last time Qatnas launched RR they bought pages of advertising in the Daily Telegraph offline - a truly bizarre marketing approach. Will be interesting to see what Jetset do differently. Very odd that they are being light on brand terms bidding in search.

Unknown said...

Hey Tim,

Just a quick note re qantas.com/hotels offering - you can book 'fee free' by using a debit card. The fee you referred to is a credit card fee.

Nicole Leeson
Manager Online Customer Experience Qantas

Tim Hughes said...

@Nicole - thanks for the note. I have updated the text. cheers