It’s been one year since Expedia Group announced a major shakeup and named Peter Kern CEO of the Seattle-based online travel giant.
The news came amid the worst crisis the travel industry has experienced in years. To say Kern had his hands full - steering one of the biggest travel brands in the world through unprecedented times - would be a wild understatement.
But he had a vision: “I want to be the best travel tech platform in the world. Period,” Kern said back in December.
How he plans to accomplish that is now becoming clearer as Expedia Group unveils a massive overhaul to its principal brand, Expedia.com.
Today, Expedia is announcing a rebrand of the online travel agency as it prepares for the return of travel.
In addition to a new look, Expedia is introducing enhanced product offerings that it believes better meet the wants and needs of travelers in a post-pandemic world.
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“People are more travel-deprived than ever,” says Shiv Singh, senior vice president and general manager of Expedia. “It’s made all of us as regular people think harder about how we travel and who helps us travel. That’s why we’re announcing this new chapter.”
Singh says Expedia’s goal is to be consumers’ “ultimate travel companion” – a service that helps travelers every step of the way as they plan and book all components of their trip.
“It does matter who you travel with. This is truly a new chapter in the brand history,” says Singh, a former executive at Visa and PepsiCo who joined Expedia in December 2020.
“It’s bringing together a lot of wonderful work being done on the product side of the house with this new brand positioning. It’s shifting the emphasis from just being about the point of purchase to supporting you at every step of the way, really helping you make great trips versus just getting a good deal or good price on something.”
Expedia says it conducted deep customer research to understand and address critical traveler pain points and help them maximize their time and experience when booking travel.
To that end, Expedia has refreshed its mobile app and website with new home screen layouts and the ability to purchase flights, lodging, cars and activities on a single platform.
We believe that to be a true travel companion you have to have a deeper, more emotional, continuous relationship with travelers.
Shiv Singh - Expedia
A new itinerary experience allows travelers to see all details of their trip in one place, in the app or on the web, and app users can now pause and come back to their searches through a “keep planning” feature.
Expedia will also soon launch a new package offering with pre-bundled products, including flights, accommodation and activities, with upfront total pricing.
“We have access to such amazing data that helps us understand what makes a great trip,” Singh says of the pre-bundled offerings. “We want to make life much easier for travelers by bundling those items with much more transparent, upfront pricing.”
In what Expedia says is a first for the travel industry, consumers can shop by lodging amenities in a side-by-side comparison. Previously, amenities included with each room rate were bundled, but the new feature gives travelers transparency into what exactly they’re paying for, Singh says.
“This increases this idea of shopping with confidence and gives them the feeling that Expedia is there for them – that we have the travel savvy to help them make better decisions.”
Travelers can now also see popular activities near their hotel, which they can purchase after they book a room or in-trip.
On the insurance end, Expedia is aiming to simplify the experience for travelers by providing clear how-to language for submitting claims. The updates to its insurance offering will roll out over the course of the year.
Additionally, Expedia is making it easier for travelers to sign up to its Rewards loyalty program, for which 25 million of its users are not enrolled. As of today, users can begin to earn points on travel experiences the next time they log on.
The update is the first in a series of loyalty announcements to come over the next 12 months, Singh says. “In the travel industry, loyalty has been all around transactions and points and rewards. We believe that to be a true travel companion you have to have a deeper, more emotional, continuous relationship with travelers. There’s more that can be done with loyalty.”
In addition to updating its logo, Expedia is debuting a new tagline - “It matters who you travel with” – which will be reflected in new creative across multiple touch points supported by the brand’s largest marketing spend in more than five years.
On April 25, a “film” starring actor, writer, director and producer Rashida Jones will air during the Oscars in the United States, and a spot in the United Kingdom starring English actor Naomie Harris will follow during the BRIT Awards in May.
Singh says Expedia’s new commitment is building on the online travel agency’s 25 years of history of helping democratize travel.
“Over the years within Expedia Group there's been awesome technology and product work that's been done, but now we're aligning everything that they do on the product side more tightly with what our brand promise is so that the story we’re telling to our consumers is backed up very directly by product features and a true product experience,” he says.
“I know everything is framed as a big deal, but this is a big deal for us. It’s no joke.”