Expedia Affiliate Network is to follow the example of Facebook and Amazon by opening up its technology to travel partners so they can develop their own unique selling propositions.
It hopes that lifting the lid on its technology by creating an open travel platform of services will spark a new flurry of innovation in the sector worldwide.Expedia plans to start rolling out this open platform in mid 2012, allowing access to a limited number of its existing products at first.
Benoit Jolin, global product and marketing vice president, said: “We want to unleash creativity in the travel sector.
“We want to provide our partners with the business assets to understand the complexity of online travel commerce, so they can build a better way for their customers to plan and book the perfect trip.
“The big focus is on how we go from being a manufacturer and retailer of travel products that help people monetise their traffic to becoming a platform.
“We are taking things miles beyond what we offer today to figure out if this can further fuel the innovation of online travel marketing. Will this create the next Hipmunk?”
Jolin said the move will see Expedia deconstruct its current white label offering for affiliates and offer them an array of discreet services like a deals widget or even just an insight tool for customers who want market data.
“We’re doing this because we believe that what people will do by consuming a discreet set of services is assemble them to create a unique value proposition.
“We process 70 million bookings a year but don’t service any of that data back.”
Jolin said the platform could help travel specialists combat the threat from the likes of Google which is developing powerful tools like Flight Search following its purchase of ITA software.
“Google is only doing what a lot of the leading players in the travel space should have done years ago,” he said.
The new platform could also encourage travel sites to target new markets and non-travel firms to come into the sector to look for ways to monetise the traffic to their websites, Jolin added.
“This opportunity is global. There are a lot of great ideas in Latin America, in China, in India. It a truly global playing field.”