To reclaim market share, Expedia is rebranding itself with a slick user experience designed to support customers at every turn.
“We want to be that ultimate traveler’s companion, with them every step of the way from the point of imagining travel, to purchasing, to being on that trip and at a car rental or hotel, to when they come back,” says Singh. “That’s a big shift in the brand promise—historically, people think about Expedia as the purchasing engine and leave it at that.”
Changes include a new layout on the brand’s website and app, along with features like a virtual agent, easy cancelations and a “keep planning” itinerary experience. The brand is also trying to help with things like travel insurance, an area that is typically confusing for customers, by offering a translation of policy language into more easy-to-understand wording. Expedia, which plans to continue to roll out enhancements in the next two years, is also streamlining its loyalty program, a chief strategy in fostering better connections with its customers.
To promote the new branding, Expedia is rolling out a new marketing campaign that represents its biggest annual spend on brand marketing in the last five years, according to Singh. The push, which was done with agency partner Saatchi & Saatchi, includes the tagline “It Matters Who You Travel With.” Jones stars in an anthem spot in which she represents the physical embodiment of Expedia. While “All By Myself” plays in the background, a young woman experiences snafu after snafu on her trip, until Jones (as Expedia) shows up to give her encouragement, support and rescue. Actress Naomie Harris stars in a U.K. version of the commercial.
Such brand storytelling, along with new website functions and a better digital experience, is a strategy travel experts expect to see continue to play out for OTA brands.
“An Expedia still needs to have a lot of content on its site around rates and fares, because they can monetize that traffic in ways they always have traditionally, but OTAs recognize the market is becoming more fragmented,” says Reid. “So they are trying to become more of these brand umbrellas—these travel brand storytellers, merchandising travelers and trying to draw people into their brand that way.”