Recently Expedia introduced a new technology platform called 'Open World', the platform is designed for partners to leverage and configure products and services and contains an entire e-commerce suite, with components like payments, fraud, conversations and service.
"Whether you're a bank with a rewards program, an airline who wants to expand their offering, a specialty travel agent focused on underserved travelers or a TikTok influencer helping the world dream of their next destination, if you want to be in the travel business, the Open World platform can help anyone succeed," says Peter Kern, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Expedia Group.
"By helping everyone take advantage of our technology and supply, Open World will make it possible for our new and existing partners to thrive in the travel market with a suite of solutions tailored to their needs, all powered by our immense artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities," says Rathi Murthy, Expedia Group chief technology officer.
Obviously, Expedia aims to enable demand generators like airlines, specialty tour operators and travel agencies, wholesalers, retail loyalty programs, etc. to develop customized applications based on Expedia's travel inventory availability and pricing feeds.
The question is, will Expedia's new technology platform 'Open World' help or hurt hoteliers?
Expedia's Open World technology platform is a natural progression from several existing B2B initiatives:
- Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN), the largest travel-related affiliate program in the world, boasting hundreds of thousands of affiliates around the world. These affiliates feature Expedia's booking engine, banners, links on their websites and earn 2%-7% commissions on every Expedia booking they make, initiate or provide a referral to. EAN generates millions of bookings every year.
- Expedia Partner Solutions (EPS), which provides complimentary inventory feeds on travel-related sites. Ex. Airline reservations and dynamic packaging air+hotel, car rental, etc. on hotel websites or hotel reservations and dynamic packaging hotel+ air, car rental, etc. on airline websites. EPS also provides its full ARI (availability, rates, inventory) to banks and retailers and their reward programs, etc.
- Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program (TAAP), which has 3 million agent-users in more than 30 countries. TAAP enables travel advisors to earn commissions in four tiers: standard, silver, gold and platinum, based on their productivity.
- Expedia has been the exclusive global distributor to wholesalers and tour operators of Marriott's B2B rates, content and availability since September 2019.
The above is more than enough to scare hoteliers out of their wits, since you have no idea where your Expedia bookings are actually coming from, or who has access to the availability/rates/inventory you provide Expedia with.
But wait, there is more! The new Expedia Open World tech platform promises even greater technical and distribution flexibility for any demand generator - whether an airline, specialty tour operator, travel advisor, wholesaler or social media influencer retail loyalty programs, etc, which will allow them to develop customized applications based on Expedia's ARI feed for over 1 million hotels and multiunit accommodations.
So, now hoteliers will be even more clueless as to where their rates are featured, and where the Expedia bookings are actually coming from.
What should hoteliers do?
- Assume that any rate you provide Expedia with will become publicly available to travelers around the world - whether on Expedia or its subsidiaries or vast network of affiliates and demand aggregators.
- Maintain strict rate parity across all distribution channels, including Expedia. Provide incentives and value adds to travelers booking directly ( Free breakfast, Wi-Fi, parking, room upgrades, early check-in, etc.)
- Implement a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) technology and program to increase repeat direct business.
- If you don't have one, create a Guest Appreciation Program to reward your direct and repeat direct guests and create a "gated community" where you can offer special perks, packages, upgrades and discounts.
Hospitality & Online Travel Tech Consultant & Strategist