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Expedia goes offline with radio show

Travel Web site Expedia will launch a syndicated radio program, its first offline venture.

Microsoft's travel Web site Expedia will launch a syndicated radio program tomorrow, its first offline venture.

Consisting of travel news, features, and how-to guides, Expedia Radio will air in five major markets and over the Internet via Broadcast.com. The Expedia Web site will contain an archive of the hour-long weekly episodes.

The idea of a Web company providing offline content is not new: Yahoo has Yahoo Internet Life magazine and MSNBC launched both a Web site and a cable television show. But Expedia is among the first e-commerce sites to attempt the feat.

The move, intended to help build consumer awareness of Expedia, comes at a time when studies are indicating that online consumers are oblivious to many Internet brands. Faced with building brand recognition, other e-commerce sites may soon follow Expedia's lead, said Barry Parr, analyst for International Data Corporation.

"If you can do it and get your name out there, it's an interesting idea," Parr said.

Suzi Levine, product manager at Expedia, said the radio program will not replace traditional marketing for Expedia. However, she did say that the program will be used to establish and extend the Expedia brand.

"It's a way that people will associate Expedia with really rich travel information and actionable travel content," Levine said.

Expedia will initially broadcast the program in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Seattle. Levine said Expedia had already worked out agreements to broadcast the show in a number of smaller markets, such as Boise, Idaho, and Eugene, Oregon.