Expedia makes package holiday tech key as it pursues ‘Amazon-style’ experience

Expedia makes package holiday tech key as it pursues ‘Amazon-style’ experience

Global travel giant Expedia will focus on developing its holiday packaging technology as it looks to differentiate itself from competitors and drive up value for its product suppliers.

The firm has set itself the task of developing new technology for its customers that will offer much easier multi-component buying within a year.

Expedia has a ‘Flight + Hotel’ option on its UK site, but plans to introduce an Amazon-style multiple component buying with live pricing. It says package customers buy earlier, spend more and rarely cancel.

Speaking at this month’s annual Partners Conference in Las Vegas, Dara Khosrowshahi, Expedia president and chief executive, said: “Part of the game plan is to invest substantially in our packaging technology to make it more flexible and allow you to package in any way, shape or form and still get the savings consumers expect.”

Expedia has been at the forefront of significant consolidation in the online travel sector in recent years with a series of acquisitions including HomeAway, Travelocity, Orbitz/eBookers and Trivago.

Khosrowshahi said by putting brands on its technology platform and allowing them to continue to be run independently they can achieve growth organically.

But he did not rule out further acquisitions, including local brands strong in regional markets.

“We do have big global brands,” he said. “These are brands that we are going to invest in in all parts of the world.

“We will then look to complement them with local brands, especially where brands are very strong in their markets. All that creates unbeatable value for our hotel, air, car and cruise partners.”

Expedia bought Brisbane-based OTA Wotif in 2014 and is poised to launch its first TV advert for three years, reflecting the aim to grow in Australia and New Zealand.

“We want to own and power the very best brands in travel on a worldwide basis. We have invested billions of dollars in technology to match the great ideas these brands have.

“This technology allows us to innovate very quickly and create the best customer experience out there.

“We have been able to bring in a whole set of new brands in to the Expedia family. As we bring them in we invest heavily so they are stronger than they were when we brought them in.”

Khosrowshahi cited hotel-only mestasearch site Trivago as an example of a brand that had seen impressive growth, particularly in the US, adding that it was “a brand we have very high hopes for”.

He said Travelocity and Wotif were also both struggling through lack of investment in technology but that both have seen growth. He said crossover with Expedia customers had been minimal.

Orbitz, including sub-brands eBookers and CheapTickets, is currently being put on the Expedia technology platform and Khosrowshahi said he expects similar improvements.

“It all adds up to an unparalleled stable of brands. We know not a single brand can speak to every customer out there.

“Having a diverse portfolio is increasingly important for us in a world where how people approach content discovery and the way they shop is changing faster than it ever has been.”

Mobile is driving change, added Khosrowshahi, who said Expedia’s Hotels.com brand is seeing more than 50% of traffic coming from mobile today, up from just 8% three years ago.

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