In 2018 Expedia Group spent more than US$1.6 billion on technology alone, saying the focus was to streamline its online platform. A recent report. which was jointly rleased by the company and a business strategy firm Magid, revealed that the investment paid off as Expedia Group now tops the list for ‘friction reduction’.
Friction reduction refers to how seamless a website and experience feels for all users. Making sure using its website is as stress-free and simple as possible.
On November 13, the report titled ‘Online Travel Friction Index’ collated factors that reduce friction felt by hospitality-industry-partners and travellers using online travel agency (OTA) websites.
The report showed the group to have the highest ‘friction reduction index score’ compared to other OTAs, hotel direct sites and Meta sites. The ‘friction reduction index’ is a weighted average numerical score rating. It is calculated by pooling together ratings of how seamless 15 separate online experiences felt for 850 online users aged 18-55.
The results were used to identify the most impactful friction reduction methods for travel sites.
In the report, Expedia Group was attributed an 816 ‘friction reduction index score’, while ‘Other OTAs’ were given a 799 score, ‘Hotel Direct Sites’ were given a 792 and ‘Meta Sites’ were given a 788.
Expedia explained it has been investing heavily in using technology to improve experiences. These technologies include artificial intelligence and machine learning, eye tracking and face reader technology to understand travellers’ focus on a web page and the emotions they experience while booking travel.
Beyond ‘traveller friction’, the group has also been working to reduce ‘partner friction’. Methods include the AI-powered ‘Partner Central Chatbot’, a bot which acts as a virtual assistant to partners. There is also an algorithm in place to inform partners of revenue opportunities.
Cyril Ranque, group president of the Travel Partners Group, Expedia Group said: “Expedia Group is focused on connecting the world, by enabling discovery, search and booking of flights, hotels, transportation and activities-in a low stress, low friction manner. Our technology-first platform is dedicated to providing a one-stop, easy and convenient experience for travellers to discover and book their trip with all the information they need to make the best and most informed selection. While we are obsessed with customer centricity, it also means a laser focus on partner success including helping our partners maximise productivity, visibility, conversion, revenue, and delivering to them the tools and experiences that they want and need.”