Canadian Travel Press
Issue Date: Jan 11, 2021

Technology as a catalyst for recovery

Exploring the future with Expedia Group

Technological innovation will be the key driver in the industry’s recovery from the global pandemic and it will continue in that role going forward.

And along with sharing its commitment to focus on this, the Expedia Group is also calling on all players in the global travel ecosystem to adapt to the shift in traveller expectations in critical areas such as flexibility, cleanliness, and communication to restore traveller confidence.

During its recent explore ’20 partner event, Cyril Ranque, group president of the travel partners group for Expedia Group, told his virtual audience that: “Travel is an industry comprised of many diverse and distinct voices, and by working together, we continue to bring hope of exploration back to people around the world.”

Ranque pointed out that: “Technology innovation has played a massive role this year and is a key driver in building a more efficient and sustainable travel ecosystem next year and the years to come.”

Expedia Group’s annual event – held, for the first time, in a virtual format – showcased how data-powered technology addressed the challenges and opportunities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, while helping make travel partners more effective, efficient, and resilient.

More Control

Using the power of Expedia Group’s first-party data and technology, travel partners moved quickly to capture audiences, understand traveler booking trends, and more relevantly showcase their unique value to better match with the right pockets of demand.

 Rev+ Insights API: Expedia Group’s new API levels the playing field across the Expedia Group marketplace, further democratizing revenue performance technology for all lodging partners. It provides real-time insights during a time when historical data is no longer relevant, creates operational efficiencies, and improves decision-making. The Rev+ Insights API will be made available to additional connectivity provider platforms in 2021.

 Optimized Distribution Program: Expedia Group opened its optimized distribution program to mid and large-sized lodging partners in August this year, allowing them to tap into new areas of B2B demand and giving them increased control of their B2B rates, availability and content across a network of global travel providers. Multiple partners including Highgate and Club Quarters have signed on to-date.

 Simplified Onboarding Process: For property managers in vacation rentals, Expedia Group developed the “Add a Property” tool, which makes adding more properties quick and easy within Expedia Group Partner Central and dramatically simplifies the onboarding processes.

 Value Add for Cruise Suppliers: Expedia Group delivered on its omni-channel strategy to improve the traveller, partner, and distribution channel experience for cruise. This streamlines the booking process to deliver more travelers to cruise partners. By consolidating to a single platform and developing new agent technology, franchise and consultant websites now receive access to a broad inventory of cruise and non-cruise product, among other benefits.

Meeting Expectations

Booking flexibility and health and safety are expected to remain important factors to travellers now and in the future. Expedia Group has added new features to clearly communicate new protocols that increase traveller confidence while minimizing post-booking complications.

 Booking Flexibility: Travellers looking for flexibility in their bookings want to quickly understand which airlines and properties are offering the ability to change bookings at no extra charge. Expedia Group added in a prominent “no change fees” badge on flights and a “free cancellation” filter for lodging bookings.

 Touchless Technology in Car Rentals: COVID-19 has disrupted the way people travel, while accelerating digitization and automation across the industry. Expedia Group launched “Online Check-in” and “Skip the Counter,” new features to improve the car experience for travellers while adhering to social distancing protocols. The “Online Check-in” feature is live with 15 supply partners including Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Sixt.

 Elevating Safety Measures: Expedia Group increased transparency around health and safety protocols, making it easier for partners across all segments to communicate their health and safety practices to travellers via their listings. For airline travellers, engagement with cleanliness and safety information is on par with the “non-stop” filter, the most used air filter on Expedia Group sites. Furthermore, listings with clearly labeled health and safety information saw in increase in interest from travellers.

Delivering The Experience

Expedia Group technology and simple processes helps increase the efficiencies of travel providers, giving them time to focus on creating amazing experiences that restore traveller confidence.

 Streamlined Shopping Experience: Expedia Group’s cruise division consolidated every point of purchase across the company into one single platform, allowing travellers to shop for an array of cruise offers on their own or with the help of an agent. Additionally, travellers can also purchase Expedia Group’s extensive supply of flights, lodging, transfers, and activities to fulfill the needs of their entire travel itinerary.

 Upsell Options for Airline Partners: While upsell options are traditionally displayed after a traveller selects flights, Expedia Group tested airfare selection in the search results to help travellers easily compare prices and select the fare that is best suited for their travel needs. These capabilities are popular with travellers, with upsell gross bookings increasing 237% year-over-year (based on 2019 Expedia Group upsell transactions).

 Increased Activities Visibility: Expedia Group increased the visibility of activities to travellers, which increased distribution across Expedia Group brands. With a large global travel ecosystem, Expedia Group focused on connecting travelers with relevant activities partners, making it seamless for travellers to book and redeem all components of their entire trip, including activities.

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