At its annual partner event, EXPLORE, Expedia Group debuted a three-tiered strategy to redefine its place in travel, including a new technology platform to power the industry called Expedia Group Open World; a reimagined marketplace that rewards partners for delivering great traveler experiences; and a focus on developing traveler technology that provides the right information to increase booking confidence.
“This isn’t the Expedia Group we were two years ago, let alone two decades ago,” said Peter Kern, vice chairman/CEO, Expedia Group, referencing the company’s inception in the late 1990s and the fact that EXPLORE was last hosted live two years ago. “We spent the last two years reimagining our potential and decided it was time for a much-needed change. Rather than a market that has become commoditized around price, we envision a world where travelers are served the right option for their needs, with transparency around value and expectations. We are excited to share the ways we are bringing that to life.”
Expedia Group Open World
The company revealed Expedia Group Open World, its new, purpose-built technology platform created for partners of all sizes to leverage and configure products and services needed to succeed in the travel ecosystem. The platform will deliver an entire e-commerce suite, with building blocks like payments, fraud, conversations and service, that anyone can use to accelerate, enhance or even enter the travel business.
“Whether you’re a bank with a rewards program, an airline who wants to expand their offering, a specialty travel agent focused on underserved travelers, or a TikTok influencer helping the world dream of their next destination, if you want to be in the travel business, the Open World platform can help anyone succeed,” Kern said. “Our platform, combined with the new innovations we announced today, is driven by our desire to put travelers first, because we fundamentally believe that when travelers win—we all win.”
Rathi Murthy, chief technology officer, Expedia Group, added, “By helping everyone take advantage of our technology and supply, Open World will make it possible for our new and existing partners to thrive in the travel market with a suite of solutions tailored to their needs, all powered by our immense artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. Choice is also accounted for in our new platform. Partners will be able to pick and choose exactly what works for them.”
As the platform matures, it will become a place where developers, data scientists, marketers, entrepreneurs and others can create new ways to encourage and enable people to travel.
Expedia Group also revealed a reimagined marketplace that puts traveler experience at its core. Using a breadth of data signals, including traveler reviews, customer service interactions and more, each hotel property will receive a new, guest experience score. This score will directly impact the search and sort factors that drive visibility in Expedia Group’s marketplace algorithm.
Partners will receive personalized insights and actionable recommendations to improve their guest experience scores in line with traveler expectations. Incentivizing partners to deliver better experiences by shifting more bookings to those who score well, the company expects to create better connections between partners and travelers and greater traveler long-term loyalty for all.
“We are redesigning our marketplace all around traveler experience. Travelers search for the right experience at all price points and all levels of star rating,” said Ariane Gorin, president, Expedia for Business. “Our new marketplace will reward partners that put traveler experience first and deliver on the expectations that they’ve set. We want travelers to have great experiences and to make sure partners get credit for the experiences they deliver. Our goal is to build trust with travelers.”
Hotel partners can see their guest experience score now by logging into Expedia Group Partner Central. The guest experience score will be visible to travelers in the coming months with plans to roll out to other lines of business later in the year.
New traveler features
The company also introduced three new features designed to add confidence and trust to the travel shopping and booking experience.
- Trip Boards: To enable a better travel planning experience, Expedia Group is extending Trip Boards to more product lines. Trip Boards serve as a homebase for all things trip related, from hotels, to activities, flights and more, enabling travelers to save and book items, and simplifying collaboration with travel companions. Trip Boards is already successful on Vrbo and launches this summer on Expedia, with additional collaboration features later in the year.
- Smart shopping: Smart shopping makes it easier for travelers to compare and choose between offers by surfacing a wider range of options earlier and all in one place. For hotels, this includes room attributes, categories and upgrade opportunities. For flights, this includes different timings, stopovers, seat selection and baggage check. Smart shopping offers travelers more transparency on their purchase, while partners are exposed to incremental revenue opportunities. Smart shopping is live today for hotels and coming soon for flights.
- Price tracking: Price tracking shows past trends and future price predictions for flight searches. It empowers travelers to see how their flight prices might change, reducing stress so they can book with confidence at the right time. For partners, it encourages travelers to consider and purchase flights they may otherwise not book. Price tracking is available today on the Expedia app on the U.S. point-of-sale for flights. It will be extended to hotels later this year.
Following the news from last year that Expedia Group would create a new, unified loyalty program, the company announced that this new program is called “One Key” and brings together four different loyalty programs the company has under its umbrella. When One Key launches next year, all members will, for the first time, be able to earn and burn points on any of the Expedia Group brands, like Expedia, Vrbo, Hotels.com and more, and on any of their travel products, including air, hotel, vacation rental, car and cruise.