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Travelocity turns 20

Travelocity decked out its Dallas office with balloons and confetti to celebrate the website’s 20th birthday.
Travelocity decked out its Dallas office with balloons and confetti to celebrate the website’s 20th birthday.

Most dot-coms didn’t make past childhood, much less the teenage years.

But on March 12, Travelocity, which was one of the earliest online travel sites where consumers could buy airline tickets without using a travel agent, celebrated its 20th birthday.

The company was founded as part of American Airlines’ parent company, AMR Corp. In 2000, Travelocity became a publicly-traded company after it merged with Preview Travel.

“When we took it public, we played to empty rooms at analyst conferences,” remembers former CEO Terry Jones, noting that companies like Pets.com were Wall Street darlings. “All other kinds of companies were getting the attention but travel ended up being by far and away the biggest Internet commerce market.”

As more online travel sites emerged, Travelocity slipped out of its first place dominance and continued to struggle as it went private and then finally was purchased by rival Expedia in 2015.

Expedia has kept the Travelocity brand and website running, moving it into new offices in Dallas. Vice president and general manager Brad Wilson said the company is able to provide consumers more travel choices now that it is owned by Expedia.

“We have more hotel properties to offer customers when they come on to the site as well as greater package variations,” Wilson said, adding there are about 75 employees at the Dallas offices.

To celebrate its 20th year, employees were given new Travelocity luggage and spent Friday afternoon eating cake and toasting Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome icon with champagne.

Recently, Travelocity unveiled a new ad campaign, “Wander Wisely,” emphasizing the site’s customer guarantees and travel planning tools.

“When I think about the history of the Web, I can name on one hand companies that have truly made a turnaround like this and now we’re viable and healthy,” Wilson said.

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