Online travel agent Expedia says it wants to be an “enabler” of the travel industry, and has branched out into meetings and events.
The global travel giant has struck a deal with Best Western Hotels for the hotelier to use its search software to link event planners to its properties.
Starting in Germany and expected to be rolled out next in the rest of Europe and then globally, the partnership means an Expedia-powered engine (Meeting Market) aims to give event organisers instant information on price, availability and online confirmation.
“This is an area we are very excited to bring added value to our hotel partners,” said Cyril Ranque, Expedia’s president of lodging partner services. “It means there will be no more back and forth between hotels and planners.”
Ranque estimates that meetings and events account for $400 billion of a $1.4 trillion annual worldwide travel market and 66% of them take place in hotels.
“We talk about corporate and leisure a lot, but not really about meetings and events,” he added. “It’s highly inefficient at the moment.”
Ranque said the move is Expedia’s latest in its bid to be an “enabler” of its hotel partners, who don’t have the same global reach or marketing budgets.
A partnership with Marriot in the US has allowed the hotel to offer dynamic packaging to its hotels via a white label booking engine that links stays with Expedia’s 450-plus partner airlines.
And Red Lion Hotels says that it has received as many sign ups to its loyalty scheme in two weeks with Expedia on board as six months before the partnership.
Ranque acknowledged Expedia is working with its direct competitors, but said Expedia has a different focus to hotels within a busy marketplace.