Listen. Watch. Understand.
Expedia Group finding the way to recovery
In the first part of a two-part conversation with Expedia Group’s director, Market Management, Rebecca Cregan talks to Canadian Travel Press about how the global
pandemic has impacted its operations and how it has responded to those challenges.
Can you set the stage, to start with, and talk about how the global pandemic has impacted on Expedia Group’s operations, both globally and here in Canada?
The travel industry has been one of, if not the most, impacted industry by COVID-19 and its initial onset led many travellers to delay their travel plans to prevent the spread of the virus.
Countries are recovering at a different pace, with different safety measures and travel restrictions in place country by country. While there are many unknowns, we do know that no one country, or company, can address the devastation caused by COVID-19 to people around the world.
Since the beginning of the crisis, Expedia Group has worked with global health organizations and governments to take immediate actions to ensure the health and safety of travelers and impacted communities.
We continue to partner across the public and private sector to reimagine and rebuild a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable global travel ecosystem.
How has the organization responded to the challenges that have been created by COVID-19?
Our immediate response to COVID-19 focused on the most critical actions we could take on behalf of our supply partners.
We revised our cancellation policies with an option for cash refunds or vouchers for non-refundable bookings, providing security to travellers in the knowledge they could rebook when ready, but also allowing our partners to keep some business on the books.
We updated our lodging tools to make it easier for partners to manage or cancel bookings directly and created scalable programs and tools to meet the needs of our partners.
Additionally, we launched our industry recovery program in May 2020 committing $275 million to help partners rebound from the impact of COVID-19 and fuel industry-wide recovery efforts.
So, at this moment in time, where is the travel industry at? Is it shut down? Is it in the reopening phase? What’s the timeline that you see for a full recovery? And what are some of the stumbling blocks that are slowing the industry’s ability to recover?
Since the initial onset of COVID-19, we have certainly seen some initial demand recovery across Canada, but we certainly can’t confuse that with a re-opening. There are so many factors to consider with this pandemic that make it hard to make any accurate predictions for what travel will look like next year, let alone the next few months.
That being said, Canada overall has shown some signs of initial recovery. In the months of April to June 2020 there was an 85% month-over-month increase on room night demand. (1)
As a follow-up. Is it reasonable to expect the industry to eventually return to the levels of business that it was generating in 2019? Or has the pandemic changed the industry irrevocably? And, if it has, can you give Canadian Travel Press’ readers an idea of what this changed industry will look like?
There is no clear answer on when we will return to normalcy, and what normal will look like for us and our travel partners.
We do know that travel is a resilient industry and we believe that it will return to normal levels eventually.
We need to listen and watch, to understand traveller behaviour and motivations during this time, so we are best prepared to re-engage with them when the time is right to travel.
We will continue to face this adversity together, helping travel brands continuing their important work and looking ahead toward recovery.
NEXT ISSUE: Rebecca Cregan outlines some of the Expedia Group’s initiatives that have been put in place to help its partners in different industry sectors weather the storm.
1 According to Expedia Group stay data from April – June 2020