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Reduction of commissions for hotel chains
One could call it the Booking.com-ization of Expedia. Expedia's recent introduction of the Accelerator program, which allows real estate to achieve higher results on Expedia hotels sites on the basis of higher than average commission payments, is the latest example in recent years of Expedia's major change in our overall approach to businesses, which has led to concurrent efforts that Booking.com has developed years previously.
Contenders habitually copy feature or product releases that have worked for their contenders, but these changes that Expedia has made in recent years are big changes. Bookoking. com's Preferred Property Program has been around for more than a century. This allows hotel operators to move the sorting up if they are paying additional commissions and, like the Expedia Accelerator program, fulfill certain service levels.
In contrast to Expedia, Booking.com identified the real estate taking part with a Preferred Partner Hospitality Name. While it may seem counterintuitive, the launch of Expedia's Accelerator program, which encourages higher rates of commission for higher booking levels, is tightly linked to another Expedia shift in the Expedia franchise that makes it more similar to Booking.com - an attempt to reduce the rates that large chain hoteliers have to do.
In the past, as we described in the 2012 How Booking.com Turned the Other MTAs into Converts description, Booking.com has partially scaled its operations by using an agent scheme with lower fees than Expedia's more complicated and higher fee paid retailer scheme. In recent months, Expedia officers have recognized that the organization has reduced rates of commission for chain hotels that have typically been higher than Booking.com and have been seen as an obstacle to expansion.
Expedia therefore thinks it can expand more rapidly by reducing fees and making its sales more appealing to chain hotels that make online reservations. Simultaneously, lower chain fees could in theory result in a sales shortfall, which could be narrowed by allowing chain and independent companies to apply higher through the Expedia Accelerator program on results pages.
If Expedia only reduced its fees in order to better rival Booking.com and others, or if Expedia was forced to do so by the hospitality sector consolidations and the development of TripAdvisor as a hospitality reservation service, is debatable. Expedia's reduction in fees was not only optional, the hypothesis was put on the stock market at the end of last year by Chris Nassetta, CEO of Hilton Worldwide, boasting of the business and other concession chains won by Expedia.
Maybe Expedia wanted to cut fees all the time. A previous and associated commitment to Expedia's approach led to the introduction in July 2012 of the Expedia Traveler Preference program, which gives travellers the option of either making payments at the hotels or in advance via Expedia. Up until then, Expedia had predominantly used the more profitable prepaid payment method for booking. com used the hotel-friendly payment method in the hospitality system.
Combined with the ability to allow customers to make payments at the hotels, Expedia 2013 gave financial benefits to hotels in 2013, as they have to bear higher charges for payment by bank cards and after sales services when customers make payments at the hotels. We' re not saying that Expedia has become a Booking.com icon or that there is something false about Expedia introducing certain programmes that have helped Booking.com grow.
Indeed, Bellevue, Washington-based Expedia and Amsterdam-based Booking.com are two very different businesses that are not just geographically dispersed. Expedia is not only a hotel retailer, but also distributes air travel, holiday package deals, automobiles, cruise ships and activity, and is much more U.S.-focused than Booking.com, which does not operate air travel for its accommodation operations and has a greater footprint in Europe and Asia Pacific than Expedia.
The Expedia Traveler Preference program provides customers with the option of making advance payment for a room or making payment at the time of booking, as further proof that Expedia does not just copy Booking.com. com usually only provides the latter option. Expedia takes steps in a number of other areas that are similar to those of Booking.com, although Booking.com does not have a single interest in these areas, as there are many other businesses that are entering these areas.
Especially in 2015, Booking.com started its BookingSuite business, which provides hotel reservation engines and online merchandising solutions, and Expedia's majority-controlled Trivago entity makes similar, though not exactly the same, movements. Expedia also unveiled Expedia PartnerCentral Conversations last weekend, a solution that allows hotel operators to interact with customers via the Expedia portal and back after completing a reservation.
The Expedia also invests in Checkmate and Alic applications to make it easier for guests to communicate with each other. In February 2015, Booking.com launched a messaging application for accommodations on Android and six month later on iOS. Bookings.com, too, is much more powerful than Expedia in the flat and holiday homes. Last year Expedia purchased HomeAway for $3.9 billion as a way to make up for losing land against Booking.com, Airbnb, TripAdvisor and many others.
Indeed, Expedia purchased several holiday rentals a few years ago, and Khosrowshahi says he deplores the fact that Expedia's holiday rentals firms had to leave with TripAdvisor in 2011 when they were hived off from Expedia. Expedia's efforts to reduce brokerage, launch a strategic call for tenders for hospitality display and be more friendly to customers and properties with a pay-at-the-hotel choice are aimed at boosting Expedia's operations and facilitating booking. com's so-called competition month is somewhat less impressive.