Expedia to continue aggressive expansion plans

Expedia is to continue its aggressive expansion strategy with Switzerland earmarked as its most likely new market later this year.

The online travel agent has launched in eight new European markets in the last two and a half years.

Speaking at an e-tid breakfast briefing, Mikael Andersson, Expedia vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said the pace was likely to continue at a rate of two new markets a year.

He said: “In the last few years we have taken an aggressive stance in Europe and we will continue to look at new markets.

“If you look at new markets you want to pick ones of the most benefit that cost the least. There are not many left and I think we will take a mixed approach.”

He named Switzerland as a large travel market Expedia had set its sights on. Already operating in Switzerland are rivals such as ebookers and Kuoni.

Other destinations on Expedia’s expansion list include Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Latin America but he admitted some markets presented challenges.

“In some emerging markets there are barriers to booking. It comes down to trust in the booking methods,” he said, citing Russia and China in particular.

Expedia Affiliate Network president Henrik Kjellberg said Expedia sister brand hotels.com aimed to be in every country globally. “Every single country is what we are targeting with hotels.com, with local payment methods and local suppliers. It’s a very aggressive geographical approach.”

Latin America is next, he said. “You will see a much stronger focus on Latin America shortly.” he said.

Kjellberg claimed no other leisure travel companies have so far attempted global reach in the same way as Expedia. “No-one has really attempted to be a global leisure brand,” he said.

Meanwhile, the company reiterated plans to roll out reviews from sister company TripAdvisor on its Expedia.co.uk site in the near future. “It’s in the pipeline,” said Andersson.

Kjellberg added that Expedia’s own reviews were less popular than those on TripAdvisor. “It’s amazing how many customers do not trust us but will trust a mother-of-five from Bognor Regis who does a review of Dubai,” he said.

More information:

* Expedia ‘open’ to helping affiliate agents with online advertising (Travel Weekly, April 7 2009)
* More than 185 agents sign up to Expdia affiliate programme  (Travel Weekly, March 2 2009)

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