Tiffany Lee — Talent Brand Manager at Expedia Group’s vacation rental division Vrbo — and her team were recently tasked with guiding their employer brand through the company’s massive rebrand from HomeAway to Vrbo earlier this year.
The Vrbo team conducted extensive testing to understand their brand recognition and what resonates with their core audience of families and groups of friends.
“We tested our brands to determine which was most memorable, loved by travelers, and where people go to book,” Tiffany said. “We found that Vrbo was more recognizable, people had good memories of it, and it had a high traveler satisfaction score.”
Once they decided to rebrand HomeAway to Vrbo, it meant evolving their employer brand.
Tiffany said transitioning from HomeAway to Vrbo employees was a big shift for everyone. “We provided our employees with resources and tools to learn more and held internal events to get everyone excited about the change,” she said.
According to Tiffany, communicating that information has been a group effort, so collaborating across teams was essential.
“Our communications team crafted the messaging. It was my job to incorporate that into everything we did with employees,” she said. “My primary focus was managing our assets across channels and making sure we were closely aligned with the creative department and included in the designs they were working on.”
Throughout the process, Tiffany also focused on making sure her team had a seat at the table.
It was a global, all-team project, so she worked with her leadership and key stakeholders across the company to determine the rebrand’s potential impact on hiring.
She also attended a weekly operations meeting for key stakeholders to stay up to date on all of the messaging and goals of the project. There were around 30 people from around the company in that meeting, which gave Tiffany and her team executive visibility.
“The purpose of this meeting was to share updates across the business. It was also a great learning opportunity for our team,” she said.
Once the employer rebrand was underway, Tiffany and her team made a big push to make sure LinkedIn was up to date.
The platform posed a challenge because they couldn’t simply shut down the HomeAway page. “It was a place that people worked,” she said. “We didn’t want it to disappear from their employment history.”
So, they created a new page for Vrbo — which meant they had to regain followers and employees on the platform.
“It was an interesting conundrum to be in,” Tiffany said. “We’re working hard to gain those followers back, and I feel good about our trajectory.”
She worked closely with her LinkedIn team on the backend to get the new Vrbo company page off the ground and change the name of HomeAway’s existing page to “HomeAway is now Vrbo.”
A name change like this was something the LinkedIn team hadn’t seen before.
“I worked with our account manager, customer success manager, and our talent brand contact on the steps we’d need to take, the dates it needed to be done by, and what the change would look like,” Tiffany said. “It took a lot of collaboration to solidify it and for them to test and make sure they could do everything we wanted.”
Tiffany explained changing the name of the HomeAway page helped increase Vrbo’s visibility on LinkedIn. “Our first status pinned to the top of the page says, ‘Come find us over at Vrbo,’” she said. “We’ve seen a decrease in traffic to the ‘HomeAway is now Vrbo’ page, and we’ve seen traffic coming from people visiting that site.”
According to Tiffany, gaining followers on the new Vrbo page has been difficult because people don’t just stop following one company and follow a new company while they’re job searching.
“It’s more about learning about the company and deciding whether it’s a good fit or not, and then going to find the job you want at that company,” she said.
On the employee side, Tiffany and her team provided instructions on how to update their LinkedIns to include the new Vrbo page and how to talk about talk about the company, as well as visual assets.
“Pretty much anyone who visited the microsite with all those assets and messaging updated their LinkedIn profile,” she said.
She also did an audit of their hiring managers on LinkedIn and built out a page for them. To be added to the page, the hiring managers first needed to update their LinkedIn to say they worked at Vrbo.
“We’ve made good progress and now, I’m working with smaller pockets of people who haven’t updated where they worked,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany’s team also worked to update and rename their other employer brand social channels.
“Since the corporate social media team had just gone through this transition in March, we were able to leverage their learnings to make our transition seamless in May,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany’s colleague, Kayla Chance, had been managing the Life at HomeAway channels and now manages their Vrbo Life channels — and throughout the rebrand, she ensured a seamless transition.
“If we have a specific audience we want to target, then we build out a persona and the messaging for that persona,” Tiffany said. “We test our designs in different places and channels, and then we move forward with our campaign. Kayla has been instrumental in making sure that gets off the ground.”
The last key piece of the employer rebrand was the evolution of their career sites.
According to Tiffany, they didn’t create a new Vrbo career site, because, as part of Expedia Group, they could leverage that brand recognition and the career site they offer.
“We also wanted to leverage some of their assets,” she said. “Their purpose is, ‘Bringing the world within range,’ and ours is, ‘Helping people travel better together.’ Our purposes are aligned and complement each other nicely.”
They also made sure Vrbo had its own position with Expedia Group’s other brands on the site. “There is a clear description of what we do and who we are,” she said. “You can filter by our jobs or locations easily.”
The next step will be building out a landing page on Vrbo.com, so when a candidate clicks “Careers,” they’ll go straight to a page explaining what Vrbo is and how they will fit into Expedia Group.”
Since the beginning of April, they’ve become fully integrated on all of their systems as employees. “Now we offer the same travel benefits, parental leave, and wellness benefits,” she said.
And instead of rebranding the existing HomeAway blog, they began contributing to the Expedia Group blog as Vrbo.
Tiffany and her team recently held a meeting at Vrbo’s office in Austin with employer brand leaders from across Expedia Group’s brands.
“This meeting was an affirmation that we can all work together and that we should have a common strategy,” she said.
They discussed what that common strategy might look like on their individual brand levels and at the Expedia Group level, how they hoped to evolve, and how they intended to build their teams to support it.
For other leaders guiding their employer brand through a company rebrand, Tiffany suggested over-preparing and building key relationships ahead of time.
According to Tiffany, because major rebrands like this are confidential, you can only reach out to internal experts for help.
“You need to find those people,” she said. “Figure out how to nurture those relationships before you have a big project come down the pipe. Make sure you have a relationship with brand marketing.”
She schedules a quarterly one-on-one with the head of brand marketing to stay connected. Tiffany also made an effort to keep a close relationship with the project’s program manager.
“The relationship piece is key,” she said. “If you have good relationships with the key stakeholders, it sets you up for success.”
Tiffany Lee has been a member of Talent Marketing Board since 2018. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.