The Expedia Group has announced a new strategy which the company said will redefine its place in travel, including a new technology platform, a reimagined reward system for its travel partners that deliver great travel experiences, and a focus on developing traveler technology that provides the right information to increase booking confidence.
The announcement was made at Expedia’s annual partner event, Explore, in Las Vegas, where Vice Chairman and CEO Peter Kern said that the company has spent the last two years reimagining its potential and decided it was time for change.
“This isn’t the Expedia Group we were two years ago, let alone two decades ago,” says Kern. “Rather than a market that has been commoditized around price, we envision a world where travelers are served the right option for their needs, with transparency around value and expectations.”
The new technology platform, called Expedia Group Open World, is a reimagined marketplace that rewards hotels that deliver on the traveler experience. The platform promises to deliver an entire commerce suite, with building blocks like payment, fraud, conversations and service, that it said anyone can use to accelerate, enhance and even enter the travel business.
“Choice is also included in the platform,” said Rathi Murthy, chief technology officer. “Partners will be able to pick and choose exactly what works for them.” As the platform matures, he said, it will become a place where developers, data scientists, marketers, entrepreneurs and others can create new ways to encourage and enable people to travel.
The reimagined reward system puts the traveler experience at its core. Guest experiences are scored and these scores are said to directly impact the search and sort factors that drive visibility in Expedia’s marketplace algorithm. Using data signals including traveler reviews and customer service interactions, hotels will receive a guest experience score that will directly impact the search and sort factors that drive visibility in Expedia Group’s marketplace algorithm.
Partners will be incentivized to shift bookings to travel experiences that score well, which it expects will create greater long-term customer loyalty.
According to Ariane Gorin, president of Expedia for Business, the new system will reward partners that put traveler experience first and deliver on their customers’ expectations.
Specific to the cruise industry, Expedia has developed a new cruise search experience for the purpose of differentiating cruise brands, ships and itineraries, and making it easier for travelers to understand the differences between offerings, and ultimately help them chose the best cruise for them, the company stated.
Expedia is also making it easier for customers to manage their cruise bookings via the Virtual Agent including self-service cancel capabilities.
Other new features include trip boards to enable better travel planning; smart shopping, making it easier for customers to compare and choose between offers; and price tracking for flights, being extended to hotels so far this year.
A new unified loyalty program called One Key will bring the existing, different loyalty programs under one umbrella, covering air, hotels, vacation rentals, cars and cruises.