Expedia hopes to have developed a more intuitive Amazon-style shopping journey for customers within a year having started tests with a proportion of its traffic.
Aman Bhutani, president brand Expedia Group, told the OTA’s sixteenth partner conference in Las Vegas this year that it was attempting a complete shift in approach.
He told the 3,500 delegates that system design to date has been based on a structure that is a function of the people that design them, rather than what the customer wants.
Bhutani cited Amazon as offering the kind of seamless shopping experience across different products that Expedia aspires to.
He said the current Expedia experience where a customer has to jump out of one product stream back to the home page to shop for another “was not the general experience in e-commerce”.
“Amazon shopping is a fantastic experience. There are lots of options but you are able to chart a path through it. Why do travel companies not do that?
“There is a difference in travel. Prices changes within hours. The inventory is super-perishable which leads to us needing a different paradigm.”
Bhutani pointed to stock market share buying systems to demonstrate how it is possible to devise an interface which people use knowing that the price in front of them is only correct if bought now.
He said the power of real time pricing was at play here and that Expedia would look to work with its partners to bring this to customers.
“This is what we are investing in, this is the journey we want you to come with us on.
“Having real time systems and building those customer experiences where they have different options and they can chart their path.
“We are doing tests with a certain proportion of our traffic. I’m convinced it will take about a year. We think we are the only ones doing this. We are the only ones with the scale and reach to do this.”
Bhutani said just 20% of users that conduct a flight search on Expedia also search for a hotel and 24% vice versa, yet these are two of the OTAs biggest verticals.
“That means if we could bring those two together our existing customer is a new customer because we will expose them to the breadth of product you give us and we have in the marketplace anyway.
“We plan to partner with you in a deeper way than we have done before. Transparency is a very important tenant in our culture and we are determined to extend that to you our partners.”
Bhuani said customers who package tend to spend more and book more often, book twice as early than those who buy a single component and almost never cancel.
“What’s not to love about the customer who buys multiple products from us?” he said.
Bhutani admitted that he was not sure exactly how Expedia will crack this challenge because nothing currently exists like it, but it will test and learn to find the solution.