Expedia to expand white label scheme as meta sites pull out

Expedia Affiliate Network president Henrik Kjellberg say there is “no technical limit” to how many websites the business can work with, and that cannibalisation of customers from the core Expedia Inc brands is not an issue.

Kjellberg was talking to Travolution about EAN’s latest signing – a partnership with The Guardian to power the transactional channel on its website’s travel pages.

EAN replaces travelsupermarket.com, which stopped working with The Guardian as part of its decision to drop its white-label business.

Kjelberg declined to comment on travelsupermarket’s move, but said that EAN welcomed the opportunity which arose as a result. The travel pages on the Guardian’s web site attract 1m unique users a month. Kjellberg said that this made it ‘ a medium-sized deal on a global basis.”

As with all its white-label deals, EAN will work with The Guardian to customize the content for its readership.

“Our offer is based on the core Expedia inventory” he said, “but how we merchandise and present the travel products can differ a lot between sites.”

For The Guardian, he suggested that the focus would be on destinations close to the UK.

EAN now has more than 10,000 white label partners across the globe. Kjellberg said that that EAN’s  back-end is so strong that it can continue to add new partners for almost no additional cost.

“Bill Gates said that he wanted a computer on every desk in the world… It’s not our plan to run a travel channel on every web site in the world, there is no limit on the technical side as to how many sites we can work with.”

The focus is travel sites such as airlines and other segments such as  search engines, membership organisations, retailers and non-travel content-based sites. “It’s remarkable where people will look for their travel, and Expedia wants to be there”. He mentioned sites about pets as one area where web visitors showed a surprising interest in the travel partners.

The cannibilization of business from Expedia Inc’s core brands is not a major concern. Kjelberg said. “For about 90% of the time there is no direct competition between the sites we partner with and the core business,” he said.

The model for EAN is a revenue-share model. “If we take a booking, the partners get a share,” he said.

“There will always be a cost of acquisition for us, if it’s a marketing cost to a search engine or a payment to an affiliate. But it’s all about getting the bookings for our supplier partners.”

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