Expedia Shifts Focus in Crowded Market
A lot has changed since pioneering travel site Expedia.com began helping excited travelers plan their vacations. Expectations have changed, consumers have become much more web savvy, and the market has been invaded by a glut of competitors all promising the Best Vacation Ever as well as a laundry list of features and benefits. It’s gotten to the point that choosing which site to use to plan a vacation is as daunting as choosing which hotel once you finally decided on a provider.
Fortunately, Expedia is not sitting content, waiting for customers to come. The company is in the midst of an in-depth study of consumer habits and behaviors when it comes to travel planning. The stated goal: make planning the trip as fun as dreaming about the trip.
This is a telling dynamic. An endless list of psychologists have published studies proving much of the satisfaction in a vacation comes not from actually being on vacation but in the dreaming about it phase. In other words, consumers are just as happy – often happier – thinking about being on vacation than they are actually being on vacation.
Expedia hopes to become part of that happiness. By studying consumer responses and investing data from that research into R&D meant to make their bank of sites more user-friendly, Expedia hopes to cash in on that pre-vacation giddiness. Instead of adding stress to the planning, the brand hopes to relieve some of that tension.
Identifying when your customers are happiest and connecting with them in a way that makes them happier is a key PR concern. It’s a two-edged sword for certain. Do it right, and your customer subconsciously connects your brand with their happiness. Fail, and you kill your customer’s joy, instantly becoming a target for blame when things don’t go as planned (which they rarely do).
The payoff here is in the research. Not only does Expedia get to benefit from borrowed happiness, but by publicizing their research, they “prove” to consumers just how much they want them to have a great time on vacation.
Gennady Barsky is a real estate mogul from New York City.