The strategy includes the implementation of a new technology platform, a revised marketplace as well as new digital tools for travellers.
Explaining the strategy, Vice Chairman and CEO Peter Kern said: “We spent the last two years reimagining our potential and decided it was time for a much-needed change.”
He added that Expedia aimed to pivot away from a ‘market that has been commoditised around price’ towards one where ‘travellers are served the right option for their needs, with transparency around value and expectations’.
Open World technology platform
The company announced its new, purpose-built technology platform, known as Open World, which it says will offer a full ‘ecommerce suite’ for the management of payments, conversations and service, as well as the ability to effectively manage cases of fraud.
The company implied that the platform would also offer a greater level of open source functionality, stating that its intention was for it to become a place for ‘developers, data scientists, marketers, entrepreneurs’, and others to innovate as it matures.
Rathi Murthy, Expedia’s Chief Technology Officer added that while the platform would employ ‘artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities’ in its operation, partners will still be able to pick and choose from options to find ‘exactly what works for them.’
Expedia says that the platform will enable ‘partners of all sizes’ to succeed in the ‘travel ecosystem’. Kern explained that: “Whether you’re a bank with a rewards programme, an airline who wants to expand their offering, a specialty travel agent focused on underserved travellers, or a TikTok influencer helping the world dream of their next destination, if you want to be in the travel business, the Open World platform can help anyone succeed.”
A reimagined online marketplace will feature a ‘guest experience score’
Expedia also announced that it was revising its online marketplace, to place greater emphasis on traveller experience.
This includes the reengineering of its website algorithms to utilise ‘a breadth of data signals, including traveller reviews, customer service interactions and more’ to generate a new ‘guest experience score’ for each hotel or property. This score will impact the visibility of destinations in terms of their appearance in search engine results and sort factors.
The company said that partners would also be able to receive ‘personalised insights’ and ‘actionable recommendations’ to improve their guest experience scores, with the aim of incentivising them to deliver better service in future.
“We want travellers to have great experiences and to make sure partners get credit for the experiences they deliver. Our goal is to build trust with travelers,” said Ariane Gorin, President, Expedia for Business.
Hotel partners can see their guest scores now via the Expedia Group Partner Central, with the company planning to roll out visibility to travellers in the coming months.
Price tracking, Trip Boards, and a unified loyalty programme
Expedia also announced the introduction of several other changes to the digital features offered on the customer side of its operations.
The Trip Boards tool, which enables travellers to book, save and organise trip-related documents and details related to hotels, activities and flights on the Vrbo online marketplace, will be launched on the main Expedia platform in summer 2022. The tool will also be given additional collaboration-centric features later this year.
New ‘smart shopping’ attributes, such as the introduction of more room attributes, categories and upgrade opportunities for hotel rooms, and timings, stopovers, seat selection and baggage checks for flights, will be rolled out over the coming year.
Price tracking, currently available now on the Expedia app in the US for the purchase of flights, will be extended to cover hotels later this year. Price tracking shows past prices and generates future price predictions for products.
Expedia also unveiled its new, unified loyalty programme, called One Key, which will replace four existing loyalty programmes currently under the Expedia umbrella. The new programme will be launched next year, and will cover brands such as Expedia, Vrbo and Hotels.com.
Expedia released its latest Traveller Value Index report in January 2022, which outlined five key consumer trends for travellers this year.