The world’s biggest online agency sees no sign of social media driving transactions, despite repeated assertions that Facebook has a big future in travel.
Expedia chief commercial officer Dhiren Fonseca told the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Asia Summit: “Not a lot of transactional volume is driven by social networks. Maybe it [booking travel] is not applicable [to social media]. Maybe people on social media just want to talk.
“There is a lot of experimentation, but no one has really cracked this.” At the same time, Fonseca described growth in mobile hotel bookings as dramatic. He said: “We have seen the booking window compressed dramatically - 98% of our mobile bookings come two days [or less] before arrival.
“The increase in mobile bookings is great for consumers but a challenge for hotels. Imagine running a 600-room hotel and having no idea how full you are going to be in two days’ time.” Fonseca argued Expedia is less a travel company than a tech company, and suggested consumers recognise that.
“At our core we’re a technology company that happens to be in travel,” he said. “Getting a cheap hotel room is more important than knowing you can call Expedia to get help.
“I can envisage a world where the device you have brings a virtual Expedia with you. It knows when you arrive at the airport. It directs you to the bus. It guides you to your hotel. It notifies the hotel of your arrival.”
Min Fan, chief executive of China’s leading online agency, Ctrip.com, agreed with Fonseca on the value of social media. Fan said: “You cannot anticipate you will get traffic from these channels.”