Webinar recap: Talking to Expedia about travel in the new normal
The travel industry’s recovery has been big news this summer. As demand resurges in other industries, what can they learn from what’s happened in travel?
Stacey Paul, a Client Success Director at Affirm, got some answers from Mike Sutter, VP of Product for Expedia Group, during a recent LinkedIn Live discussion. Sutter leads product management and innovation across all ecommerce services for the Expedia Group family of travel brands, including Expedia.com, Vrbo, Travelocity, Orbitz, Hotwire, and Hotels.com. His insights from the last year and a half can help other businesses adapt to post-pandemic realities.
Major themes from the conversation are highlighted below, followed by a link to the full conversation.
Restoring consumer confidence is key. Business recovery is really dependent on consumer confidence, Sutter said. That truth drove his company to innovate with flexible bookings and prioritize transparency around hygiene.
Flexibility is here to stay. Expedia Group brands innovated during the pandemic to promote flexibility in travel planning, and made it easier for customers to cancel or change bookings. ”What you’re seeing now in travel—and other spaces—shows an increase in consumer expectations around flexibility, and I don’t think that’s going to change,” said Sutter.
Health and safety remain top of mind. The pandemic has made customers more aware of cleaning protocols—especially in hotels, vacation rentals, and airlines. Additional product functionality that enables customers to find properties with enhanced cleaning practices has been a timely addition. The heightened concern over health and safety is also driving more customers to want contactless payment options for booking travel and making purchases in all parts of the world.
Customers want more payment options. “Offering a book now, pay later option has been really appealing for our customers, especially if they’re booking a cruise or package or longer trip,” Sutter said. “I think the real lesson learned here is that you don’t know what’s going to happen, so having choice and flexibility for consumers in the way they can pay helps them have a good experience.”
The demand for self-service has accelerated. Sutter highlighted how consumer demand drove more interactions with virtual agents during the pandemic, and that desire for getting questions answered or problems solved quickly through self-service will remain a priority. “Increasingly people want to quickly take action and just move on,” he said, “and I think that streamlining those interactions for simplicity and flexibility will continue to be key.”