Unprecedented level of partnership, key to ‘restoring travel’
Canadian Travel Press continues its conversation with Expedia Group’s director, market management, Rebecca Cregan as she talks about the initiatives it has put in place to help its partners meet the challenges of the global pandemic.
Now, Expedia Group has put some initiatives in place to help its partners in different sectors weather the challenges of COVID-19. Can you talk about these initiatives … for hotels … for other suppliers … and for travel agents? And maybe about why the company launched this initiative?
As you mentioned, we have rolled out a series of global initiatives – from industry-wide programs to destination rebound and property-level relief – designed to support our travel partners.
To support the restoration of our travel industry, we launched Expedia Group Academy, a complimentary training and education program to help displaced travel professionals search for their next employment opportunity.
Additionally, we’re restoring customer confidence with new health and safety features and flexible booking options. To support our destinations, we’re providing a $25 million advertising fund for destination recovery and keeping customers inspired through global demand campaigns.
In Canada, our Expedia Group Media Solutions team is partnering with Destination Canada on a new marketing campaign to inspire Canadians to explore and re-discover their country. Through this partnership, Destination Canada can reach the millions of unique visitors who search, shop and book travel on Expedia Group sites every month.
To support lodging partners, we committed $250 million to help our independent partners and small chains rebuild their business, attract high value guests, and optimize cash flow.
To better understand when demand will return to a market, we are providing free access to a dynamic dashboard called Market Insights that offers proprietary search data from across the Expedia Group business.
Again, following up. How has the industry responded to these initiatives? What kind of up-take did you get to these programs?
Our recovery program kicked off in May 2020 and is currently live across hundreds of markets around the world.
Through conversations with our partners as well as with presentations to local hotel associations across Canada, the overall sentiment has been positive. They appreciate our collaboration on their recovery and recognize the support we are providing will make a difference and help them over the short and long term.
Our partners are finding great value in the proprietary data we offer via our Market Insights tool, which shows each partner where the demand is coming from for their market – so they can better track demand trends, traveler behaviour and intent.
There is a lot of surveying, tracking studies, information gathering going on to try to get a handle on the travel intentions of consumers. Has Expedia Group been doing its own consumer research? And can you share some of those findings, if it has – particularly intelligence relating to the Canadian market?
In July, Expedia Group released its latest report on emerging trends and behaviours of Canadians during the summer travel period.
Not surprisingly, the results from that study showed a higher propensity for domestic summer stays, up 30% year-on-year, making up around 85% of hotel searches overall in June.
Similarly, demand for intra-provincial stays are on the rise and are up almost 20% compared to last year.
We know that there is pent up travel among travellers across the globe and through our tools within Expedia Group Partner Central, it’s about identifying the trends and where travellers are coming from to help our supply partners capture that demand.
Let’s turn things around. I’m wondering if there is a question that I haven’t asked that you think should be asked? If there is, what is it and what’s the answer?
What we found to be surprising through this process is the gaps within the travel ecosystem that COVID-19 exposed.
We need to simplify the travel ecosystem to create a more frictionless experience for travellers.
For example, in the hotel check-in process – we need a global contactless check-in procedure like we have for flights.
In recent months, we saw issues surface where us and our flight partners could not make cancellations at scale.
COVID-19 has highlighted this issue to the industry, and after COVID-19 we will still be susceptible to future natural disasters and global health crises.
We have just never addressed these processes, but they are the things that help to modernize travel.
Last question. What’s the one piece of advice that you have for your partners to help them get through this?
With a long road to recovery ahead, it is especially important to continue providing the customer service and support that travellers expect from our industry.
I recommend reaching out to your Expedia Group account manager to learn more about our recovery program as well as Expedia Group Media Solutions partnership with Destination Canada local partnerships.
Embrace the green shoots of recovery and identify them quickly with our Market Insights dash-board and get the latest demand trends for your market.
And help your guests feel more at ease during their stay by highlighting your properties health and hygiene measures in Expedia Group Partner Central.
Restoring travel will take an unprecedented level of partnership – so the key now is for us to work together to pull us out of this, by communicating clearly to guests
and working to rebuild traveller confidence.
Rebecca Cregan is Director of Market Management for Expedia Group Lodging Partner Services, responsible for leading the market management team in Canada. Her team provides a consultative support approach to help properties maximize their performance through Expedia Group product solutions.
She has over 10 years of experience with Expedia Group supporting various markets throughout the Northeast, New York City and Canada. A proud graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Rebecca has lived in Boston, New York City and most recently Toronto. In her spare time, she loves to travel, cook and discover hidden gems across Canada.