One of the world’s largest online travel agencies says it is committing $400 million to help partners rebound from the impact of COVID-19 and fuel industry-wide recovery efforts.
Research carried out by Expedia Group in April 2020 shows lodging partners want support from OTAs in four priority areas as they look to rebound from the pandemic: Demand trends insights on leisure and domestic travel; investments in marketing and demand generation for travel and destinations; increased visibility on Expedia Group’s sites; and financial relief.
Expedia Group’s recovery program is comprised of global initiatives to support industry recovery and property-level relief designed to help independent partners and small chains rebuild their business, attract high-value guests, and optimise cash flow.
“There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan for recovery. Restoring travel will take an unprecedented level of partnership across public and private sectors, and a deep understanding of what our partners need,” said Cyril Ranque, president, Travel Partners Group at Expedia Group. “This recovery program is the first step in our long journey to rebuild a more resilient, inclusive, and sustainable global travel ecosystem.”
A summary of Expedia Group’s recovery program can be found below.
To restore partners:
- Expedia Group is committing AU$363 million in marketing credits and financial relief. For each property that participates in the program, the company will reinvest 25% of the compensation earned in 2019 from the property into marketing credits for use with Expedia Group. The company is also reducing its compensation on all new bookings made within the three-month program period, regardless of the actual stay dates. Lastly, Expedia Group is extending payment terms for Hotel Collect bookings to 90 days to provide additional financial relief. The marketing credits and financial relief measures will become available to partners based on recovery signals, including demand trends, from their specific markets. This approach will provide Expedia Group partners with the support they need when it will be most beneficial. There are minimum requirements that partners need to fulfill to participate in the program. The company is currently piloting this program in select countries in Asia.
- To better understand when demand will return to a market, Expedia Group is providing proprietary data to track trends through a new analytics tool called Market Insights. The dynamic dashboard provides trends on website traffic, stay dates, and demand source markets. The tool is live now and is complimentary to all partners utilising Partner Central.
To restore destinations:
- To re-ignite demand through market awareness, Expedia Group Media Solutions, the global advertising organisation of Expedia Group, is opening a AU$37 million fund for destinations. This recovery plan focuses on destination-led and co-op campaigns, which bring together destination and supply partners with similar audiences to manage their advertising spend while maximising their conversions.
- To keep travel top of mind, Expedia Group is rolling out a series of global brand campaigns. For example, an online campaign from Media Solutions called Where Next? helps customers discover new destinations. Engagement in the campaign shows promising customer intent, attracting 30,000 visitors in the first weeks. The campaign will run until mid-June and is available on any device across Expedia Group brands. Other customer campaigns include new virtual travel experiences on Expedia.com such as a scenic train journey to the Norwegian Arctic Circle and a visit to Ang Thong National Marine Park in Thailand, among others. To encourage Aussies to stay longer, explore and support regional tourism, Wotif and Stayz will continue to hero domestic travel and drive awareness about the local experiences on offer.
To restore the industry:
- To help furloughed and displaced workers advance during this time, Expedia Group has created a complimentary training and education program called Expedia Group Academy. The program offers skill development through online learning modules and live content led by Expedia Group subject matter experts and travel industry leaders. It will feature concentrations in diversity and inclusion, sales and business skills, and leadership training. Participants will receive recruitment opportunities upon completion. Interested individuals can connect with other participants on the Expedia Group Academy LinkedIn Group prior to the official program kickoff in late June.
- To ensure customers can book with confidence, Expedia Group created a new feature for lodging partners to highlight the health and hygiene measures at their properties. These include contactless check-in and check-out, hand sanitiser available to guests, enhanced cleaning measures, and social distancing plans. Also, to promote the health and hygiene of property owners and guests, Expedia Group’s holiday rental brand, Stayz introduced a feature which allows enhanced safety practices to be communicated by partners on their property description pages on Expedia Group sites.
- To meet the needs of cautious customers and ensure booking flexibility, nearly 70% of lodging rate plans on Expedia Group sites are now refundable. Additionally, Expedia Group is introducing a new filter to search flights by flexible fares on Expedia Group sites globally, allowing for exchanges or itinerary changes as needed.
To learn more about the marketing credits or financial relief, please contact your Expedia Group account manager. Additional resources to guide recovery strategies can be found in the Expedia Group COVID-19 resource center.
 According to Expedia Group research of 10,551 lodging partners and direct partner feedback
Image Credits: ©NorGal – stock.adobe.com