3 tips hoteliers can learn from Expedia
11 DECEMBER 2015 8:34 AM
Expedia opened its annual partner conference this week in Las Vegas and shared data that can benefit hoteliers’ bottom lines.
LAS VEGAS—Bigger and faster.
That’s how Expedia executives characterized the overall travel industry in 2016 from their vantage point during the company’s annual partner conference.
The company disclosed highlights from the data it collects on travel booking and activities and shared updates on its business following a year when Expedia grew larger than ever, following its acquisition of Orbitz earlier this year and announcement of intention to acquire HomeAway.
Here are three top-level tips Expedia speakers shared during the conference that can benefit hoteliers:
1. Don’t have a mobile strategy yet? Get one.
Expedia President and CEO Dara Khosrowshahi reminded attendees how important a hotel’s mobile presence is, not only because that’s where bookings are increasingly moving, but also because guests who spend countless hours connected to their mobile devices are more likely to connect more frequently with their travel providers.
But it’s more than just having a mobile presence, he said. More important is having cross-platform compatibility.
“You have to be able to optimize across devices and build an experience across devices,” he said. “We’ve found that 48% of our customers who make a purchase on Expedia have accessed two or more different devices before that purchase.”
Cyril Ranque, Expedia’s president of lodging partner services, shared data that while mobile use is increasing among travelers searching for hotels, mobile users search fewer properties before booking than desktop users do.
“This means that the consideration set is smaller on mobile, so you need a clear, strong mobile strategy to make sure your hotel is in the consideration set of the customer,” he said.
2. Content is more important than ever
To that end, executives stressed the importance of high-quality content and photography promoting the hotel property and experience.
John Kim, chief product officer for Expedia, said the growing pace of change is what keeps him up at night, and content overload is the element of change that the hotel industry should be most concerned about.
“Content production around the world is exploding,” Kim said, giving it the name “content shock.” He said every company that produces content “must think about how their content has less and less of a chance to be seen, and production quality of that content must be higher so companies can monetize it.”
3. International visitors are good for the bottom line
Hotels.com SVP Neha Parikh shared tips for hoteliers on attracting the growing, lucrative base of international travelers:
- Know your feeder markets: “Depending on where your target international travelers come from, your strategies to get them can vary widely,” Parikh said.
- Boost content: “We know how important content is to international travelers, because they want reassurance about where they’re going,” she said. “When people shop on Hotels.com for international hotel destinations, they look at 25% more photos on average.”
- Consider promos: “International travelers are more prone to book on a deal—they book on a deal 30% more than domestic travelers,” she said. “That can be a very lucrative opportunity for you.”
Company integration plans
As the company continues to execute on its growth strategies, Khosrowshahi said Expedia will keep its new acquisitions—such as Travelocity and Orbitz—together yet separate, maintaining their own leadership, loyalty programs and structure, while converting to Expedia’s technology platform.
The end goal, he said, is growth.
“As we bring these brands in, we invest very heavily behind them in order to drive growth so the brands can be much larger than they were when they came into the family,” he said.
Khosrowshahi stressed the continuing importance of partnership with hotel clients.
“Ultimately, a healthy travel ecosystem is a healthy ecosystem for all of us,” he said, indicating both hotels and OTAs. “Hoteliers must make sure they have a diversity of demand sources so they’re not dependent on one source of demand over another.”
Expedia’s in-the-works acquisition of HomeAway is part of the company’s strategy of exploring alternative accommodations, Khosrowshahi said.
“HomeAway is a hundred-billion-dollar business now and we think alternative lodgings are where independent hotels were 12 to 15 years ago, in a place where they couldn’t find global distribution,” he said. “The same now is true of alternative accommodations. We can take it and give them a global voice. We’ll take them from a listings business to a transactional business.”