The Great British track cycling team that has dominated recent Olympic Games is providing the inspiration for Expedia’s formula to become more customer-centric.
Aman Bhutani, Expedia brand president, told the global OTA’s annual partner conference in Las Vegas, the firm is adopting the cycling team’s approach to incremental gains.
“Their simple philosophy is improving everything by 1% and they do it again and again. They do not look for perfection, they look for improvement and they compound that improvement.
“This team will iterate and innovate and invent something now to find the next 1%. That’s what we have to do. We have to be committed to making things better.
“Travel is taking off, it’s a global business everyone wants to talk about. At this moment the best players always want the ball.
“We have been working together for many years, our partnerships go back 20 years in many cases, but when we think about the future we believe we have to come together in new ways that we have done in the past.
“There is a formula for this. It starts with that consumer centric view. It starts with that one person working with one person in our organisation making that 1% improvement and doing it again and again.”
Bhutani described himself as a “believer in science” and picked out a recent neurological study that found human brain activity becomes synced when people tell each other stories.
“The power of storytelling is that it can do that to our brains. We can all be in sync. We believe that these stories should be our customers’ stories, our customers and your customers. That’s the definition of being customer centric.”
Bhutani said Expedia has been working for over a decade to identify the pain points that customers have when booking and searching for travel and to solve those in whatever way is good for the customer.
Expedia has recently started adding links to supplier websites in an acknowledgement that customers cannot always find the information they seek on its website.
Bhutani also cited an example of Expedia inserting an information page in the car hire booking flow to address the often complex nature of the product and reduce customer confusion.
He said Expedia predicted that placing this in the flow would reduce conversions, which it did but it persisted with the experiment and found, through feedback from partners, that people who booked via this path were happier with their experience.
This also led to fewer no-shows and cancellations, said Bhutani. “That’s what we are looking for. If we are in sync we can end up in a world where consumer centric becomes partner centric and we all win together.”