TORONTO — Expedia.ca, which recently marked its 15th year in operation, invited media to partake in celebrations and learn about new products at Chill Ice House in Toronto, where parka-clad journalists, travel-bloggers and radio personalities discovered an indoor ice wonderland against a backdrop of Toronto-themed ice sculptures.
Expedia.ca has reached significant milestones in travel bookings since its inception in Canada. “In 2000, we turned the computer screen around so it was facing the customer, and we put them in control of travel,” Sean Shannon, managing director of Expedia.ca, said to a crowd of more than 30 attendees. The brand has since amassed 365,000 hotel partners, more than 400 airline partners and features 7.5-million hotel reviews.
Fast forward to today, and mobile is the future of travel bookings. In 2011, the company launched the free Expedia app, and now, one-fifth of bookings are done through mobile, the managing director added, saying, “It even surprised us how rapidly people embraced it.” Meanwhile, the team introduced a new tablet app late last year. It has enhanced search functionality and highlights hand-curated destinations that can be explored by scrolling right to left.
The newest product, Expedia+, is a free loyalty program that lets users earn travel rewards when they purchase flights, hotels, vacation packages and car rentals from Expedia.ca. It offers incentivized points for booking via the mobile app. Its three-tiered structure is comprised of blue (entry-level), silver and gold, and has no black-out days. For each dollar spent on hotels, packages with a hotel, activities and cruises, users earn two loyalty points; and booking flights amounts to one point for every five dollars spent. The program also offers VIP access benefits where customers can earn bonus points, priority customer care and extra hotel amenities.