Expedia adds its first hostel, RV park, and campground listingsNewsBy Sean O'Neil | November 18, 2014Share This article was originally published on The digital superhighway is finally reaching recreational vehicle (RV) parks, campgrounds, and hostels in the United States.Yesterday, Expedia brand websites quietly added hostels, RV parks, and campgrounds as specialty categories of lodging to the search results for select US locations.You won't see the new options on the homepage. To find them, you have to search for a hotel at your destination and your preferred dates, and then in the advance search filter options on the left sidebar you'll see a way to refine down to these cheaper alternatives.Hostel moveExpedia is dipping its toes in the warm ocean water of hostels -- a category that's been mainstream in Europe for all generations but is seen as a thing just for millennials in the US.Expedia now lists more than 30 hostels in destinations that have them in large numbers, such as New York City, San Francisco, LA, Washington DC, Miami, Chicago, Austin, Portland, Baltimore, San Diego, and Sacramento.If there are properties, an option to filter by "hostel/backpacker accommodation" will appear. If not, you won't see the option.This system seems to work. In less than 48 hours, 40 people have booked the Freehand Miami, a hostel in Miami Beach.Hostelling International USA, the largest US hostel chain, is providing the initial inventory.While a few hostels had snuck into Expedia's listings under the category of "hotel," this is the company's first explicit outreach to the category.Expedia became more attractive to hostel owners when it began to allow property owners to choose to list rooms via either the agent or the merchant model -- Expedia Traveler Preference -- is especially attractive to hostels, who tend to try to woo millennials with a "book now, pay at the front desk" promise.Expedia's move into the backpacker space may raise eyebrows among specialist online travel agencies like HostelWorld, which last year acquired rival HostelBookers and which claims to list 30,000 properties in 180 countries.The parent company of HostelWorld and Hostels.com is Dublin-based Web Reservations International, which has been owned since 2009 by private equity firm Hellman and Friedman.Cabin fever is a good thingExpedia is the first US online travel agency or metasearch site to add listings for cabins at American RV parks and campgrounds.Travelers can now search by accommodation types including “cabin” or “caravan park” in the dropdown menu on Expedia sites.Inventory for RV parks and campgrounds comes first from Equity LifeStyle Properties, which manages several RV resorts in the US including more than 175 campgrounds. It claims to be the largest campground system in North America.More inventory will come from Cruise Inn. The deal, which was inked in the summer, aims to tow RV trips into the digital era, and has required back-end systems integration.In an interview, Drew Bowering, director of key accounts at Expedia, said the company "has its eyes firmly on expanding further into outdoor hospitality, including other campgrounds, vacation rentals, small inns, and national parks product."The next step will be to add RV and tent sites to Expedia.com, followed by adding the listings to Expedia Inc's other brand websites.The listings will tend to be on the agency model. There's no element of exclusivity to the deals.Brands like Cruise Inn can see the deal as a way of going to RV parks and encouraging them to sign up and join their systems because they can promise to pass along the inventory to Expedia for a significant upsurge bookings.This lure may convince RV park owners to make the investment in technological and reservation process upgrades -- something woefully lacking in the sector.As for Expedia, its new emphasis seems to be on offering "All the Lodging That's Fit to Book." The only thing missing now are national parks and peer-to-peer lodging.