Expedia Inc. is in the process of introducing globally a new way for hoteliers to promote ancillary services such as discounted spa treatments, loyalty points or free parking on brands from Expedia.com to Hotels.com — but the new product is mostly interesting because it is emblematic, although a small element, of the online travel agency’s huge ambitions in providing new business services to the hotel industry.
And getting a greater foothold in the hotel industry as a service provider is a way for Expedia to increase its influence, gain a wider audience and offset the hundreds of millions of dollars the company invests annually ($830 million in 2015) in its wide-ranging technology platforms.
In a Skift backstage podcast right after appearing on stage at the Skift Global Forum in Manhattan September 27, Expedia Inc. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi revealed some very interesting perspectives about Expedia’s push into business services for hotels, which include direct-connect technology to Expedia’s extranet, providing hoteliers with guests’ feedback during their stays, powering package-selling on Marriott Vacations, auto-enrolling Expedia site visitors into Red Lion’s loyalty program, and an Accelerator feature for hotels to jump higher in search results on Expedia’s sites.
Asked about Expedia plans for providing business services to hotels, Khosrowshahi said: “I think at this point it is something that’s evolving…. We are investing hundreds of millions of dollars behind these technology platforms that are designed to make the booking experience better, faster for users. And the way we’ve architected these platforms is that they are extensible for multiple brands, multiple use cases.”
“This is simply about deepening our relationships with our hotel partners and about amortizing that platform investment over a greater audience,” Khosrowshahi said. “So at this point it is a nice opportunity. It holds very strong, early promise. How big is it going to be? I have big ambitions but I am not ready to admit them right now.”
What it Means
Translation? Business services for hotels, if successful, are likely to become a very substantial business for Expedia. Expect a lot more products to come. Expedia designed its technology platforms for multiple use cases — including for leisure, business travel and hotel business services — and it intends to make some of those use cases a reality in deepening its relationships with hotels to expand Expedia’s influence and to leverage the massive investments that Expedia has made over many years into those technology platforms.