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Earlier this month Expedia launched Expedia Powered Technology, a toolkit of technology, marketing, and data offerings designed to help hotel partners drive knowledge and efficiencies to grow their businesses.
Loyalty360 talked to Melissa Maher, senior vice president, global partner group at Expedia, to find out more about what this new technology can mean from a customer engagement perspective.
What factors prompted Expedia Powered Technology and what are your goals for it from a customer engagement perspective?
Maher: We are going through an exciting period of change–evolving our business and transforming the way we work with our partners by helping them reach incremental customers through our technology advancements. Expedia Powered Technology was born from a lot of different tests-and-learns with hotels, to help specific partners with problems they faced or solutions they desired, and the most successful of those have now become product offerings.
During your research, prior to this launch, what did you learn from listening to your hotel partners and their needs and how your technology could help?
Maher: We learned that there are a lot of technology challenges in the lodging industry because the industry is rightfully focused on the hospitality experience. When technology is not your core focus, it’s a lot harder to invest to bring new solutions. We completely overhauled Expedia a few years ago with a heavy technology investment and a test-and-learn culture. Our test velocity has increased by 29x from 2010 to 2016, and we’ve invested more than $2 billion in technology in the past three years. And core to it all is ensuring we’re working from partner insights, pain points, and needs to ensure we’re bringing solutions that solve real problems.
What is involved in the shift to a strategic focus on needs of evolving business solutions?
Maher: Disruption is happening in every industry as technology is evolving to meet the demands of digital consumers. We are dedicated to being at the forefront of the industry, utilizing our technology expertise to offer innovative solutions to help power the lodging industry, and we’re more focused than ever on the future direction of travel. We have a keen understanding of new technologies like Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning, and Artificial Intelligence, and the impact of voice- and messaging-activated interactions.
How can loyalty marketers leverage this technology to enhance their customer experience/customer loyalty offerings?
Maher: So many factors play into loyalty–reputation, experience, etc. While we leave it to the hotel experts to obviously develop their best loyalty programs, we can help with reputation, along with loyalty acquisition. Our Guest Review Insights tool helps properties look into aggregate what is working, and what is not, on their properties so they can improve where needed to provide an even better experience. And our Partner Loyalty Enrollment enables partners to enlist and sign up users from Expedia sites for their brand loyalty programs. These are just a few of the Expedia tools that can help loyalty marketers.
What is unique about the Expedia Powered Technology?
Maher: What is unique is that we’re developing technology-driven solutions for our hotel partners–by listening to them and solving industry pain points. We’re a technology company at our core, so we’re putting our test-and-learn culture to work to solve problems for everything from revenue management, to booking, by powering booking engines for chains.
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