Hoping to shed its image as merely a travel bargain-hunting platform and restore duty of care to travellers, booking giant Expedia has announced a brand relaunch that services consumers through the entire travel journey.
With the goal of becoming the “ultimate travel companion”, the platform will play to the high demand for flexible bookings, travel insurance and product transparency. Through its desktop site and mobile app, it will now offer “easy ways” to make changes and cancellations to bookings, said Expedia senior vice president and general manager, Shiv Singh. Any alteration made to a traveller’s arrangements can be reflected in real time through a “living itinerary”.
Additionally, the platform will provide options for purchasing travel insurance, as well as dispense advice on-the-go about policy coverage and directions on how to submit documentation if needed.
The new Expedia will also display a transparent list of all amenities, benefits and features included in a booking.
Singh expressed: “There’s often a lot hidden (from) the end-traveller. As they’re choosing between two different airlines or several different hotels, it (can be) very hard for them to know what amenities are available, what features are included in the price, and what is an add-on.
“By enhancing our product experience in the app and on expedia.com, we make it much easier to compare so that you know exactly what you’re getting, and (that) you’re getting the most value from the dollars you’re spending on that trip.”
Throughout the purchasing journey, it will rely heavily on data analytics and artificial intelligence to provide guiding information and updates that will be more relevant to the individual consumer, particularly concerning pandemic-related advisories and quarantine rules. The website and app will receive visual makeovers as well.
The transformation comes on the back of the realisation – in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak last year – that the industry has neglected its duty of care to travellers. Singh explained that in the 24 years since Expedia was established, travel and booking companies “started to focus more aggressively on transactions, deals, cheaper tickets and cheaper hotel rooms”.
“Instead of just ‘do it yourself’, (the mindset) became ‘book and go by yourself, you’re on your own’. The traveller, in a sense, was left alone on their trips,” he reflected.
At the onset of the pandemic in 2020, Expedia instituted free cancellations for customers who had made prior bookings on its app and website. It has since also introduced other features centred on safety concerns, such as search filters to identify airlines and hotels with health and hygiene measures in place.