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EXPEDIA ‘DOUBLES DOWN’: New plan to focus on client fulfillment

After 25 years as an online travel agency focussed solely on volume and transactions, Expedia says it is making a “pivotal” switch in philosophy to become “the ultimate travel companion” for clients that will help them “every step of the way.”

The company says its “renewed commitment to travellers” comes on the heels of what has arguably been one of the toughest years for the travel industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and that its new global positioning is “grounded in the understanding that who you travel with matters…”

Expedia says it conducted deep customer research “to understand and address critical traveller pain points,” and that its new positioning “marks a pivotal moment for the brand as it looks to overhaul its business to better cater to travellers who value maximizing their time and want to get the most out of their overall travel experience.”

The result will be an updated look and feel for the brand, enhanced product offerings, and a “doubling down” on efforts to deliver on travellers’ evolving wants and needs in a post-pandemic world.

“What we’ve found over the past year is that our customers want… a trusted partner who is there with them every step of the way, supporting them to ensure they get the most out of their trips,” said Shiv Singh, Sr. VP and GM, Expedia Brand. “Like many travel brands, COVID-19 has forced us all to look inwards and reflect on who we are as a brand and what that means to our consumer. As travellers adjust to the new norms post-COVID, we must adjust as well, and this is just the first chapter in a multi-year journey to really deliver against our mission of being a brand that is there for travellers from start to finish.”

At the heart of the rebrand will be a refresh of Expedia’s platform experience across its mobile app and more than 70 websites. The new home screens reflect a clear and simple layout with product features designed to empower travellers to build a complete trip that suits their needs and interests, bringing together multiple trip elements seamlessly, including the ability to purchase flights, lodging, cars, activities, and more, on a single platform.

Features include:

• A new itinerary experience to allow travellers to see all the details of their trip in one place.

• A ‘keep planning’ feature that plays back recent searches as well as recent bookings to help build a complete trip.

• A new package offering that will provide ‘pre-bundled products’ (flights + accommodation + activities) with upfront total pricing, reducing the stress of sifting through thousands of options while still allowing for easy customization such as adding or removing travel components.

• A simplified insurance offering that includes translating the policy wording into easy-to-digest content, improving the process of submitting claims through clear steps on documents required, as well as the status and next steps once a claim is submitted. Plus enhancing coverage, adding broader functionality, and monitoring the events of a user’s trip journey for claim eligibility.

• Enhancing the virtual agent platform. Through the ‘one-click cancel’ function, travellers can cancel their entire trip or ask the virtual agent questions about their itinerary, including viewing the health and hygiene information for a particular hotel for fast resolution and no wait times.

• Showing travellers activities near their accommodation which will be available post-booking and in-trip to help travellers easily identify ways to continue maximizing their trip.

Other developments include:

• The Expedia Rewards program will be simplified by merging with the existing account setup process, allowing 25 million travellers who were not already enrolled in Expedia’s loyalty program to start earning points on travel experiences the next time they log in. Other benefits will be added over the course of the year.

• A new flight shopping experience provides travellers with a clear view of their flight options, including offering such details as whether a carry-on bag is allowed, or seat selection is available.

• An industry-first ability to shop by lodging amenities, including listing such rate features as parking or a complimentary breakfast.

Expedia says it will publicize its change in philosophy and brand enhancing with its largest marketing campaign in over five years, based on the new tagline “It matters who you travel with” and featuring, in North America, the “relatable” actor Rashida Jones (“The Office”).

“Our new brand positioning acts as a promise to the traveller who wants to be engaged by possibilities, but now more than ever needs to feel supported throughout their journey,” says Singh. “We know that people want to get back to travel (and) we want them to feel confident in the travel experience they can have with Expedia.”

First published at Travel Industry Today

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