Las Vegas’ Aria Resort & Casino recently played host to Expedia’s two-day Explore 18 conference. Delegates spanned a whole range of industry professionals, who were in attendance to hear Expedia CEO talk about what the hotel and online travel industries (OTA) industries could learn from the sharing economy. We find out more.
CEO’s top tips
At the Explore 18 event, Expedia CEO had some nuggets of wisdom to share. Much of his discussion centred around the opportunity that those in the travel industry who are not yet engaged in the sharing economy have missed. Okerstrom was defiant about the potential that is offered to Expedia’s hotel partners through the examination of data collected via Expedia’s platforms. He implored hotel operators to start thinking smart about the data they already have, gathered from Expedia’s records on flight and hotel bookings, to offer attractive packages to prospective clients who might otherwise go with AirBnB if their offer was better.
Advice to hotels: just tap it
Speaking about AirBnB’s dominance in the accommodation market, Okerstrom and Expedia’s president for lodging partner services , said that hotels had the potential to level the playing field, if they would just tap into it.
“We have to push more what the customer wants. More alternative accommodations in the rankings doesn’t mean less customers for hotels. When it’s priced right, when it’s not subsidized, the case for booking a vacation rental is more about where people are looking for accommodations for a group of four or more, which doesn’t really impact hotel partners as long as we can organize search results in the right way,” Ranque said.
By using the data available through Expedia, hotel operators can assess what customers are looking for and when, and compare this to listings on AirBnB and adjust their pricing accordingly.
More intelligent revenue management could be a game changer for hotels, said Okerstrom.
Potential in choice
Okerstrom lauded AirBnB’s business model and brand, saying that the platform had been far more successful than anyone could have predicted. However, far from seeing this competitor as a foe to be conquered, he sees the new sector that has been created by the sharing economy as integral to the development of hospitality in general, where there is a need for accommodation of all types, price ranges and experiences.
“We think alternative accommodation is incredibly important but it’s only part of our strategy; you are not going to stay in alternative accommodation every time you go away. We need to have everyone. Our strategy is to be customer-centric. Alternative accommodations is just one small piece of a larger strategy,” said Okerstrom.