The Expedia Group of two years ago is no more,
according to company vice chairman and CEO Peter Kern, who came
onboard around this time in 2020 to replace former
CEO Mark Okerstrom.
At the company’s annual Explore partner event,
Expedia Group unveiled a new three-tiered strategy designed to serve its
partners, travelers and the industry, including a new technology platform
called Expedia Group Open World and a system that rewards hotels for providing a
better guest experience.
“This isn’t the Expedia Group we were two
years ago, let alone two decades ago,” says Kern.
“We spent the last two years reimagining our
potential and decided it was time for a much-needed change. Rather than a
market that has become commoditized around price, we envision a world where
travelers are served the right option for their needs, with transparency around
value and expectations. We are excited to share the ways we are bringing that
A key feature of the new vision is a reimagined
marketplace that rewards hotels that deliver on the traveler experience.
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 receive insights and actionable
recommendations to improve their guest experience scores aligned with traveler
expectations. By implementing this system – whereby partners who deliver better
experiences gain position for more bookings - Expedia Group expects better
connections between partners and travelers and greater traveler long-term
loyalty, a priority Kern outlined earlier this week in
the company’s Q1 2022 earnings report.
“We are redesigning our marketplace all around
traveler experience. Travelers search for the right experience at all price
points and all levels of star-rating. Our new marketplace will reward partners
that put traveler experience first and deliver on the expectations that they’ve
set,” says Ariane Gorin, president of Expedia for Business.
“We want travelers to have great experiences
and to make sure partners get credit for the experiences they deliver. Our goal
is to build trust with travelers.”
According to Clayton Nelson, vice president of strategy and transformation at Expedia Group, the company has vast amounts of data – including around check-in, cleanliness, communication, cancelations, etc., and not just user reviews - to inform how guests experience a property.
The end-to-end scores provide an “incredibly rich picture of what the experience looks like,” Nelson says. “Over time, we will engage with and share more of those signals with partners and expose that to travelers [through the guest experience score].”
“At a very high level, we want to be fair,” he continues. “We have the processes in place that allow for fairness.”
As the marketplace evolves, Nelson says, Expedia Group will provide additional programs – including access to higher-tier loyalty members and additional tools that “partners have been waiting for” - exclusively to hotels with great performing properties.
The guest experience score will be visible to
travelers in the coming months with plans to roll out to other lines of
business later in the year.
Also announced today, the Expedia Group Open
World technology platform is created for partners to leverage and configure
products and services.
It contains an entire e-commerce suite, with
components like payments, fraud, conversations and service, that partners can
use to enhance their business. It’s also designed for anyone looking to enter
the travel business.
“Whether you’re a bank with a rewards program, an airline who wants to expand
their offering, a specialty travel agent focused on underserved travelers 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,” Kern says.
“By helping everyone take advantage of our
technology and supply, Open World will make it possible for our new and
existing partners to thrive in the travel market with a suite of solutions
tailored to their needs, all powered by our immense artificial intelligence and
machine learning capabilities,” says Rathi Murthy, Expedia Group chief
“Choice is also accounted for in our new
platform. Partners will be able to pick and choose exactly what works for
Additionally, Expedia Group has introduced
three new features designed to boost confidence and trust to the travel
shopping and booking experience.
The features include extending Trip Boards,
which serve as a home base for all trip components including hotels, activities
and flights, to more product lines. Already on Vrbo, Trip Boards will launch
this summer on Expedia.
Meanwhile, the smart shopping feature will
make it easier for travelers to compare and choose between a wider range of
surfaced options such as hotel room attributes and upgrades as well as flight
times, stopovers and seat selection, giving travelers more transparency on
their purchase and partners more incremental revenue opportunities. Smart
shopping is live now for hotels and coming soon for flights.
Finally, the price tracking feature shows past
trends and future price predictions for flight searches, empowering travelers
to see how their flight prices might change and encouraging them to consider
flights they may not otherwise book. The feature is currently available on the
Expedia app on U.S. point-of-sale for flights and will be extended to hotels
later this year.
year ago Expedia Group revamped its primary brand, Expedia.com, with an
updated app and website, consolidated booking flows, trip planning features,
product bundles, insurance and more. Those efforts, and today’s announcements,
all tie back to Kern’s
original pronouncement of his intention to make Expedia Group the best travel tech platform in the world.
* The reporter's
attendance at the event was supported by Expedia Group.