Expedia looks to forge airline relationships

Expedia is to examine more productive ways of working with airlines after admitting commercial deals have been left to stagnate.

The online giant revealed it will open talks with carriers in a bid to crank up marketing and promotional opportunities. Currently, there is almost no dialogue, Expedia said.

In an exclusive interview with Travolution, Expedia partner services group president Paul Brown said he wanted a proactive relationship. “We need to become a more valuable partner to the airlines and that’s not about dropping prices to sell distressed seats,” he said.

Unlike other industries, said Brown, travel suppliers and retailers have a history of failing to co-operate.

“It’s how the travel industry has historically worked,” he said. “Take other sectors. If Proctor and Gamble wanted to drive more sales at a particular time through Tesco, they wouldn’t just drop the price and hope it sells. They’d work together.

“If you speak to any travel retailer or supplier, very few discuss joint marketing.”

Brown said Expedia would look initially at packaging poor-selling stock and run joint marketing campaigns with carriers at certain times of year.

He denied airlines have little need of online retailers, saying they not only shift distressed stock but bring in business from other markets. “If someone is going to Paris they may go direct to the airline, but if they are planning a holiday they are more likely to come to Expedia. It’s the same person but with different needs. If airlines didn’t need us, they wouldn’t work with us.”

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