[INTERVIEW] New Initiatives with Expedia Group

chairs on a beach with a blanket and a hat

Today, we are featuring Sarah Marcucci, PR Manager, Expedia Brands Canada, Expedia Group. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions and we look forward to your new initiatives!

1) Please tell us about yourself and your role with Expedia Group?

I’ve almost completed my first year at Expedia Group serving as the PR Manager and leading initiatives for all three brands in Canada – Expedia, Vrbo, and Hotels.com. Coming onboard was an exciting move: Who wouldn’t want to work in travel and talk about all the amazing places you can book and stay? Before Expedia Group, I was also working in PR with a background in sports and entertainment.

2)Since this is our first time meeting, what is Expedia Group about?

Expedia saw its web debut in 1996 as one of the first online travel agencies. Since then, our platforms and products have evolved to help our travellers and our partners find the right pathways through millions of possibilities to reach the best possible outcomes. To do this, we provide industry-leading technology solutions, like the new products we’ll chat about today. Simply put, we’re driven by the belief that travel is a force for good, and we help people experience the world in new ways and build meaningful and lasting connections.

3) Looks like you are working on three new initiatives, can you please tell us more about the: (1) Conversational planning built with generative AI, (2) Smart shopping and (3) Air credit redemption?

  • Conversational Trip Planning: Expedia’s new in-app feature powered by ChatGPT aims to make traveller’s lives easier, because we know that the process can sometimes feel overwhelming.

The new trip planning experience uses intelligent shopping by automatically saving hotels discussed in the conversation to a new “trip” in the trips tab in the app, helping members stay organized and making it easier for them to start choosing dates, checking availability, and adding on flights, cars or activities.

  • Smart shopping: Smart shopping is a super helpful suite of industry-first shopping features that allows travellers to compare and narrow down their hotel options more quickly and more easily – especially on the hotels.com app. What this means is increased price transparency, simple side-by-side comparisons, and machine learning-powered room recommendations to help travellers easily find their perfect somewhere when it comes to their ideal hotel stay.
  • Air Credit Redemption: This is a hassle-free feature that’s a lot like having a customer service team in your pocket! It’s an industry first feature from Expedia that makes it easier for travellers to shop and book a flight using their air credits. Travellers can now simply log into their Expedia account to apply their air credit to an eligible flight in just a few clicks, saving valuable time.

4) How do these initiatives apply to Canadians?

Canadians are always on the go, so we wanted to develop and introduce tools to make travel planning easier and less time consuming. With so many options out there, it can feel overwhelming when you start the planning process for your next trip. In fact, in our annual Vacation Deprivation survey conducted earlier this year, we found that 61% of Canadians felt that the planning process could be stressful – especially when they don’t know if they’re getting a good deal.

However, we also know that travel is worth it, every single time. The survey also found that in 2023, Canadians are prioritizing travel and that despite rising inflation costs, the state of the economy made people want a vacation even more (71%). So, these powerful tools not only seek to save travellers valuable time by helping them easily self-serve and narrow their options, but they also help Canadian travellers to achieve peace of mind by understanding the value of where their hard-earned dollars are being spent when it comes to making travel dreams a reality.

5) What else can we look forward to?

Travellers needs are always evolving, which means Expedia Group is constantly working towards serving those needs. Later this summer, even more features will be added to our newest products, making them even more helpful for travellers. For example, next month the ChatGPT plugin will be available in the app for Android users, and regardless of your operating system, more visual features will be added so that travellers can start to envision their travels and start imagining how they can come to life.

Additionally, Expedia will be launching its annual Air Travel Hacks report in September which is chalk-full of useful tips for saving money and time on upcoming travels. It’s backed by meticulously researched data, so you won’t want to miss it! Of course, Expedia will also be launching its Labour Day sale, so I recommend downloading the Expedia app, signing up for a free Expedia membership and starting to save trip elements of interest. Members can save even more on travel and can also enter air mileage plan numbers at checkout. It’s a great way to rack up points even faster by booking once and earning twice.

6) We are closing in on our ten-year anniversary. Do you have any thoughts for us as we embark on our next 10 years?

Congratulations on hitting the ten-year milestone! I can certainly appreciate that the ever-growing options for Canadians can be overwhelming – in fact, Expedia has done the research to prove it. Therefore, the Pointshogger has done so much work to help Canadians better understand those options at a time where every dollar saved is significant. We can relate to that at Expedia Group, as traveller value is a shared goal we hold in high esteem. It’s why we’re working so hard to bring industry leading tools and products into the hands of consumers so they can realize their travel dreams. So, in close, thank you for all your hard work and dedication. Just imagine how many families you’ve helped in saving up for their treasured vacations after a decade-worth of tips!

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