SEATTLE—On the first day of its annual partner conference Explore ’20, this year held virtually, Expedia Group shared some of the positive signs it has seen in travel recovery, as well as its continued commitment to focus on technological innovation as a key driver in recovery and beyond.
Cyril Ranque, group president, Travel Partners Group, Expedia Group, pointed to several signs that the company has seen that show that things are looking better for travel. “We know a little bit better about how this is going to end and how this is going to unlock,” he said. “You can see that there is pent-up demand. A lot of people have talked about that. My belief is that when things reopen, in a lot of places, it will be exponential because we won’t be open everywhere at the same time, so the first ones to open will see really big spikes in demand. We are already seeing some week-on-week searches up year-on-year for trips in January and February in EMEA, so there is confidence that when things reopen it will move fast. In the last few weeks and months, we have been able to create some confidence in the minds of travelers that when things reopen, they can actually travel.”
Technology as Catalyst
The company is calling on all players in the global travel ecosystem to adapt to the shift in traveler expectations in critical areas such as flexibility, cleanliness and communication to restore traveler confidence.
Joined by speakers from companies representing the diverse travel industry, including IHG, American Airlines, Amigo Tours, Avis Budget Group and Princess Cruises, among others, the group showcased how data-powered technology addressed the challenges and opportunities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, while helping make travel partners more effective, efficient and resilient.
“Travel is an industry comprised of many diverse and distinct voices, and by working together, we continue to bring hope of exploration back to people around the world,” said Ranque. “Technology innovation has played a massive role this year and is a key driver in building a more efficient and sustainable travel ecosystem next year and the years to come.”
Data and Technology to Give Travel Partners More Control
The company highlighted some of the technology that it is using to help its travel partners:
- Rev+ Insights API: Expedia Group’s new API levels the playing field across the Expedia Group marketplace, further democratizing revenue performance technology for all lodging partners. It provides real-time insights during a time when historical data is no longer relevant, creates operational efficiencies and improves decision-making. The Rev+ Insights API will be made available to additional connectivity provider platforms in 2021.
- Optimized Distribution Program: Expedia Group opened its optimized distribution program to mid and large-sized lodging partners in August, allowing them to tap into new areas of B2B demand and giving them increased control of their B2B rates, availability and content across a network of global travel providers. Multiple partners, including Highgate and Club Quarters, have signed on to-date.
- Simplified Onboarding Process: For property managers in vacation rentals, Expedia Group developed the “Add a Property” tool, which makes adding more properties quick and easy within Expedia Group Partner Central and dramatically simplifies the onboarding processes.
Meeting Traveler Expectations on Flexibility, Health and Cleanliness
Booking flexibility and health and safety are expected to remain important factors to travelers now and in the future. Expedia Group has added features to communicate new protocols that increase traveler confidence while minimizing post-booking complications.
- Booking Flexibility: Travelers looking for flexibility in their bookings want to quickly understand which airlines and properties are offering the ability to change bookings at no extra charge. Expedia Group added in a prominent “no change fees” badge on flights and a “free cancellation” filter for lodging bookings.
- Elevating Safety Measures: Expedia Group increased transparency around health and safety protocols, making it easier for partners across all segments to communicate their health and safety practices to travelers via their listings. For airline travelers, engagement with cleanliness and safety information is on par with the “non-stop” filter, the most used air filter on Expedia Group sites. Furthermore, listings with clearly labeled health and safety information saw in increase in interest from travelers.