The parent of Expedia has announced a $275 million global package of support measures to help accommodation partners bounce back the COVID-19 pandemic.
Expedia Group says it hopes that the supporting will help partners rebound from the impact of coronavirus and “fuel industry-wide recovery efforts”.
Following research it has identified four key areas in which partners need help including demand trends insights on leisure and domestic travel, investments in marketing and demand generation for travel and destinations, increased visibility on Expedia Group’s sites; and financial relief.
The investment will be offered globally and aimed at independent partners and small chains to help them rebuild, conserve cash and attract high value customers as travel restarts.
Cyril Ranque, president of the travel partners group at Expedia, said: “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan for recovery.
“Restoring travel will take an unprecedented level of partnership across public and private sectors, and a deep understanding of what our partners need.
“This recovery program is the first step in our long journey to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable global travel ecosystem.”
The Expedia recovery programme consist of the following initiatives to help restore partners, destinations and the industry:
$250 million in marketing credits and financial relief.
For each property that participates, Expedia will reinvest 25% of the compensation earned in 2019 from the property into marketing credits for use with Expedia Group.
The company is also reducing its compensation on all new bookings made within the three-month program period, regardless of the actual stay dates.
Expedia Group is extending payment terms for Hotel Collect bookings to 90 days to provide additional financial relief.
The marketing credits and financial relief measures will become available to partners based on recovery signals, including demand trends, from their specific markets.
Expedia said: “This approach will provide Expedia Group partners with the support they need when it will be most beneficial.
“There are minimum requirements that partners need to fulfill to participate in the program.”
Expedia is currently piloting this program in select countries in Asia.
- Providing proprietary data to better understand when demand will return to a market
Expedia Group will track trends through a new analytics tool called Market Insights.
The dynamic dashboard provides trends on website traffic, stay dates, and demand source markets.
The tool is live now and is complimentary to all partners utilising Partner Central.
- A streamlined version of Expedia Group’s optimised distribution
To support chains and owner groups the group has released a solution that allows suppliers to more effectively manage the distribution of wholesale rates among third party travel providers.
The solution is designed to increase revenue by favourably positioning supply partners’
inventory across a network that include airlines, loyalty and membership organisations, financial institutions, offline travel agencies, and more.
- A $25 million fund for destinations
To re-ignite demand through market awareness, Expedia Group Media Solutions is offering the fund.
This recovery plan focuses on destination-led and co-op campaigns, which bring together destination and supply partners with similar audiences to manage their advertising spend while maximising their conversions.
- A series of global brand campaigns
These are designed to keep travel top of mind. For example, an online campaign from Media Solutions called Where Next? helps customers discover new destinations.
Expedia said engagement in the campaign has already shown promising customer intent, attracting 30,000 visitors in the first weeks.
The campaign will run until mid-June and is available on any device across Expedia Group brands.
Other customer campaigns include video conferencing with the Travelocity Roaming Gnome, virtual marriage ceremonies with hotel.com’s Captain Obvious, and new virtual travel experiences on Expedia.com such as hikes through Yellowstone and performances of the Berlin Philharmonic, among others.
- A complimentary training and education program to help furloughed
Called Expedia Group Academy the training offers skill development through online learning modules and live content led by Expedia Group subject matter experts and travel industry leaders.
It will focus on diversity and inclusion, sales and business skills, and leadership training.
Participants will receive recruitment opportunities upon completion. Interested individuals can connect with other participants on the Expedia Group Academy LinkedIn Group prior to the official program kick-off in late June.
- A new feature for lodging partners to highlight the health and hygiene measures
This is to ensure customers can book with confidence. Measured highlighted include contactless check-in and check-out, hand sanitiser available to guests, enhanced cleaning measures, and social distancing plans.
Also, to promote the health and hygiene of property owners and guests, Expedia Group’s vacation rental brand, Vrbo, has introduced a cleanliness checklist to be added to the property descriptions on Expedia Group sites.
- A new filter to search flights by flexible fares
Expedia said this will meet the needs of cautious customers and ensure booking flexibility. The filter will allow for exchanges or itinerary changes as needed. Nearly 70% of lodging rate plans on Expedia Group sites are now refundable.