Expedia.co.uk has unveiled plans for a range of new services while detaling a new Facebook app and a discounted hotel booking option.
The launch of the two new services are the first of many in the pipeline in the next six months, according to the company. The online travel booking giant expects to launch more products and services in the period than it has done in the past five years.
The Expedia Trip Companion app on Facebook is designed to help users plan holidays by drawing on the collective support of friends and other travellers.
The information is displayed on the traveller’s Facebook page so others can comment on the updates and suggestions, giving the user advice from both personal friends and the wider travelling community.
Senior marketing director Andrew Warner said: “It is important for us to provide travellers with the tools and support to get the most out of their trip whether that’s during the research and booking phase on the site or once they have booked and even when they return from their travels.
“Like most travel sites, we know our users are active Facebook users so, as the most relevant environment for our audience to share their experiences, Facebook was the natural platform to develop this service for.”
Meanwhile, Expedia Secret Saver Hotels is designed to provide hotel partners with a discrete way of offering their best possible rates without compromising their retail rates.
The Secret Saver option displays the price for selected nights, the area of the selected city/region that the hotel is located in, star rating, facilities and a short description – but not the name.
Users can “trade up” to a higher star property and pay well below the retail rate – up to 50% less. At the same time, participating hotels can now capture customers who might not have otherwise booked their property, Expedia claims.
The Expedia.co.uk service will leverage the US-based Hotwire opaque model. The UK launch will enable the 25,000 hotels working with Hotwire to reach a wider audience while offering new opportunities for the 127,000 hotels currently working with Expedia worldwide.
After an initial soft launch phase, a separate landing page with information about the service and additional site promotions will be launched.
Further offline promotion is planned for the service in the first quarter of next year.
Warner said: “The new Expedia Secret Saver Hotel service will enable our partner hotels to better manage fluctuations in demand.
“Expedia can now offer them greater flexibility through extending the different ways they are able to work with us.
“We have recently conducted an extensive research study examining how we can leverage existing functionality and services within the Expedia Inc. portfolio as well as creating new services to better address the needs of specific audience segments and deliver value and flexibility for our consumers.”
He added: “In the US we have seen that customers tend to use the opportunity of saving on their hotel to upgrade their stay. Because they are saving on their hotel they can afford to try out a higher rating hotel or spend more during their stay – and all without any extra effort.”