Emphasizing that he has a “growth mindset” as opposed to scaling back, Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern detailed many of his long-term objectives for the company and shared strategies on how it has navigated some of the unique challenges of the last several months.
Kern—who was promoted from vice chairman of the Seattle-based travel giant in April—detailed a number of ongoing initiatives during Expedia’s annual partner conference recently.
When asked his top three priorities, Kern clearly stated his ambitious expectations.
“I want to really understand the power of the customer and have good outcomes. I want to really drive success for our suppliers with everything we have to offer and I want the best travel technology platform in the world,” he said.
Kern stressed that Expedia Group—which includes a robust lineup of travel brands including Hotels.com; vrbo, Orbitz, Travelocity, trivago, HomeAway, Hotwire, to name a few—is looking to narrow its focus.
“We came in even before the pandemic wanting to simplify things. Expedia was a company built to some extent on a lot of acquisitions and [added] a lot of brands. We ran that play as far as it could go and we were thinking it was time to get a little more refined. The best tech companies in the world tend to do a few things very well, not a thousand things very well. So we had to think about that when it came to brands, technology and when it came to almost everything,” he said, adding, “it’s a big change for us.”
Acknowledging he brings “fresh eyes” to the CEO position, Kern underscored some of the unique consequences of the pandemic.
“I would say in a weird way COVID is a blessing if you want to be a change agent…In terms of really focusing your company it gives you an opportunity to really look starkly and clearly at what’s going on and be able to focus on what really matters,” he said.
Kern further elaborated on the importance of companies focusing on what they do well and enhancing that as Expedia is looking to do.
“We believe technology and the marketplace is where we’re strongest and where we can help everybody. We’re doubling down and tripling down, investing in our technology platform making it really powerful so it can power our suppliers and our customers to better outcomes. That’s what we’re totally leaning into,” he said, later adding, “we have a big agenda about driving he things we’re really good at on the technology side.”
Expedia Group shared its continued commitment to focus on technological innovation as a key driver in recovery and beyond. Joined by speakers from companies representing the diverse travel industry, including American Airlines, Amigo Tours, Avis Budget Group, IHG, and Princess Cruises, among others, the speakers showcased how data-powered technology addressed the challenges and opportunities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, while helping make travel partners more effective, efficient, and resilient, according to Expedia.
“Travel is an industry comprised of many diverse and distinct voices, and by working together, we continue to bring hope of exploration back to people around the world,” said Cyril Ranque, Group President of the Travel Partners Group, Expedia Group in a statement. “Technology innovation has played a massive role this year and is a key driver in building a more efficient and sustainable travel ecosystem next year and the years to come.”
The company went on to provide updates on a number of technology initiatives. As an example, Expedia Group’s new API levels the playing field across the Expedia Group marketplace, further democratizing revenue performance technology for all lodging partners, according to the company. It provides real-time insights during a time when historical data is no longer relevant, creates operational efficiencies, and improves decision-making. The Rev+ Insights API will be made available to additional connectivity provider platforms in 2021.
Meanwhile, Expedia Group opened its optimized distribution program to mid and large-sized lodging partners in August this year, allowing them to tap into new areas of B2B demand and giving them increased control of their B2B rates, availability and content across a network of global travel providers. Multiple partners including Highgate and Club Quarters have signed on to-date.
In addition, looking to provide additional flexibility for travelers in the wake of the COVID pandemic, Expedia Group added in a prominent “no change fees” badge on flights and a “free cancellation” filter for lodging bookings.