Expedia plots travel graph, thinks more like stock market than supermarketNews / Distribution | TechnologyBy Linda Fox | November 11, 2013Share This article was originally published on Expedia dropped a few more clues last week as to how it plans to meet the needs of the rapidly evolving consumer.That bit about online travel agencies traditionally not being very good at 'personal' might change going forward as the company draws more and more data together to become a recommendations engine.So, acknowledging that it is the consumer that will shape the future development of online travel, a senior executive says the OTA is thinking of itself more like LinkedIn than other travel companies out there.EMEA marketing boss Andrew Warner says: "What we are moving towards is the kind of questions OTAs have not been used to answering and anticipating what the consumer wants and delivering recommendations. This is a commercial conundrum, still in many markets the penetration of OTAs is only 50% because we have probably not been able to meet these customers needs."Share this quote Tnooz has written about this previously when Expedia started testing more natural search using big data.So, how is it going about the process?Warner, speaking during the WTM/TTI Travel Innovation Summit says most customers are happy to share data 'in some way, shape or form' but the challenge is in getting a handle on the data so that it delivers relevant results to consumers. "LinkedIn structures the way it captures data to deliver you more relevant results that have greater value, the more you use it the better it gets. At Expedia we have a similar mentality, thinking about how we can use the information to deliver greater relevancy."Share this quote What the company is starting to do is build a 'travel graph' which boils down to drawing elements out of the vast range of data it gathers, not in a 'Big Brother' way, to feed into an engine which delivers relevant information out the other end.Inevitably, it will involve a lot of testing to find the best way to present the information, again something which the company alluded to about a year ago.But testing shouldn't be an issue because as, Warner says, there are about 170 different versions of its website served up depending on who the customer is.He adds that the company is at an advantage in terms of its size - bigger the site, more users, more data.So where does stock market fit into all this?The company wants to build far more dynamic information into its platform to give customers with a feel for what's on and where to help them make more informed decisions.It's an interesting analogy given how some travel execs used to urge the industry to think like a supermarket and present its products accordingly. "We're looking at travel as more like the stock market than a supermarket. We want to show information that is dynamic and we're trying to socialise data that helps them make more informed decisions. "We're getting to a world where search becomes more intuitive, more about recommending the right product and helping them share it and get to the right decision."Share this quote Some of those elements are beginning to sound a bit like some of the work Amadeus has been doing with Vayama with the Featured Results technology serving up cheapest, fastest, sponsored and most popular.MobileMobile will inevitably have a role to play especially as the OTA has already started down the route to responsive design. Warner touched on the itinerary becoming 'live' with more information being fed in as travellers go through the journey whether it be alerts or location-based offers, etc. "Now, consumers are able to access Expedia through many devices but we want to deliver the results based on who you are, what you want and when you need it."Share this quote And the result of all this, says Warner - the third generation of online travel agencies.NB: Graph image via Shutterstock.