London, 17th March 2011: Leading online travel booking site, Expedia.co.uk, today announces a major upgrade of its Expedia TripCompanion service, based on consumer feedback and interaction insights. Expedia’s first European Facebook application, the refreshed service builds on existing features, offering increased customisation and targeting, combined with a greater focus on the ‘during trip’ functionalities.
Expedia TripCompanion provides relevant content for travellers throughout each stage of their trip. In the ‘pre-trip‘ travel phase the app provides a holiday countdown with weather updates and currency information. It also suggests potential activities using top-rated activity, restaurant and bar recommendations from Tripadvisor.
The new app maintains core content from the original beta version and continues to offer currency conversion, weather information and suggested activities. After a rigorous test period, the updated version of Expedia TripCompanion now also:
– Combines Tripadvisor geocode with Google Maps to introduce a mapping functionality that allows users to view points of interest around their destination
– Offers an enhanced weather API providing a five day view
– Enables travellers to “filter” content to view by interest type
– Has a “like” function to share activities or points of interest with networks and gather feedback
– Offers a printable Trip Plan featuring up to 20 points of interest which can be adapted according to the interests of the traveller (e.g. excluding museums but including cookery courses
– Introduces more compelling third party content to enrich user experience
“The response to Expedia TripCompanion has been very positive with over 150 users signing up each day, proving that travellers are looking for this type of continued targeted support beyond the booking phase“, comments Gurmej Bahia, Director of Customer Marketing at Expedia.
The new flexible back-end system will enable Expedia to work with a number of third party content providers and introduces the possibility of providing even more targeted in-trip suggestions based on the traveller‘s location – for example, special offers or local discounts, local expert/blogger recommendations, music venues and sports facilities.
Expedia TripCompanion users can now customise the application by selecting the types of content displayed according to their particular interests and preferences. They will also be able to print their final trip plan and accompanying map marking their selected attractions for use on the move where internet access might be expensive or unavailable.
“When developing Expedia TripCompanion our main focus was to combine the data we have with the strengths of Facebook to provide a valuable service to consumers. We have insights into when and where people are travelling and, in most cases, where they are staying. What social media – and Facebook in particular – offers is the opportunity to support these customers beyond the booking phase by providing relevant, highly targeted content which can be shared amongst their network to enrich their trip experience and facilitate group travel planning,” added Bahia.
If the user chooses to share updates on their wall, the Expedia TripCompanion app will also prompt friends to share their ideas. This enables users to select the information source (friends or the broader travelling public) which they regard as most relevant or authoritative depending on the situation.
“We have been looking closely at the differing needs of our audience and how they wish to engage with us: while some travellers are interested in a more personal relationship with our brand and inspirational engaging content, others are more motivated by practical services and information which will make travel booking simpler. Our goal is to offer greater flexibility in catering for these differing needs and interests. Expedia TripCompanion is just one example of the type of useful services we are developing, with more to follow later in the year,” comments Andrew Warner, Senior Director of Marketing, EMEA.
The app is currently available in UK and will be rolling out to the following European markets in the next six weeks: France, Germany and Italy.