Expedia pumps in 'largest brand spend in 5 years' for global refresh

Expedia has undergone a global rebranding, unveiling a new visual identity, tone of voice, and colour system to position the brand as uplifting, positive, and travel savvy. Expedia's brand SVP and GM Shiv Singh said during a virtual press conference that its new goal is to be "the ultimate travel companion".

"The new brand positioning is going to be our largest brand spend in five years and it will be for the whole of 2021, compared to any of the preceding years before that," Singh said although he declined to comment on the specific monetary value of the rebranding. He added that this is "not a small campaign or small effort" but instead a new chapter in the company's history, how it views the business, and how it is supporting travellers. "We are putting our money where our mouth is," he added.

To portray Expedia as the ultimate travel companion, the company rolled out a new spot with a new tagline "It matters who you travel with" across multiple touchpoints. A new approach for 2021, the US film creative features American actress Rashida Jones and the UK and European spots will feature English actor Naomie Harris. Both will serve as perfect representations of Expedia's new brand attributes – intuitive, travel-savvy and positive.

According to Expedia, using relatable and empowering individuals such as Jones and Harris, the global creative puts companionship at the core of its narrative. Through the creative's scripting and song-writing, Jones and Harris will engage with travellers to deliver inspiration and support in an upbeat and uplifting way. The result is an anthem spot that highlights the importance of being an empowering travel companion for all. Saatchi & Saatchi London, Arts & Sciences, and Framestore were responsible for the campaign.

Singh (pictured below) explained that its new brand positioning acts as a promise to the traveller who wants to be engaged by possibilities, but now more than ever needs to feel supported throughout their journey. "We know that people want to get back to travel, we want them to feel confident in the travel experience they can have with Expedia," he added.

When asked how important Asia will be in Expedia's plans moving forward, Singh said the company believes there is an "immense growth opportunity in Asia", especially in countries such as Singapore and Hong Kong. "One thing I'd say is how quickly and how aggressively we roll out the new branding and features will depend on travel corridors opening up. But a long-term commitment to Asia is very much there," he said. Moving forward, brand storytelling and a heightened user experience will be at the forefront of its strategy, to connect with travellers who value maximising their time and want to get the most out of their overall travel experience.

expedia shiv singh

Singh told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE separately that the rebranding began about 12 to 15 months ago at the heels of the global pandemic when Expedia realised how disconnected it was as a brand with its travellers.

"Conversations began on what do we want the future to look like. The team drew up a product road map and for the first time, marketing and product worked together closer than they have ever done to bring everything together, and to create a traveller-centric experience," he said.

At the same time, Expedia has also introduced new product features. The new home screens reflect a clear and simple layout, with product features that will empower travellers to build a complete trip that suits their needs and interests, bringing together multiple trip elements seamlessly. During the virtual press conference, Singh described the latest announcement to be "as much a new product direction as it is a new brand direction".

Along with the ability to purchase flights, lodging, cars, activities and more on a single platform, Expedia also introduced a series of updates aligned to its brand vision of being the ultimate travel companion:

1. Everything in one place

This is a new itinerary experience that enables travellers to see all the details of their trip in one place, be it on the mobile app or web, saving time, and making future travel planning convenient for consumers. Available now on the Expedia mobile app, travellers have the ability to pick up where they left off with a "keep planning" feature that plays back recent searches as well as recent bookings to help travellers build a complete trip. Expedia will also be launching a new package offering that will provide pre-bundled products (flights + accommodation + activities) with upfront total pricing.

2. Support from start to finish

Over the course of the year, Expedia will simplify the insurance experience including translating the policy wording into easy-to-digest content, improving the process of submitting claims through clear steps on documents required as well as the status and next steps once a claim is submitted.

It will also continue to invest in its virtual agent platform. Through the one-click cancel function, travellers can cancel their entire trip or ask the virtual agent questions about their itinerary.

3. Getting the most out of every trip

The Expedia Rewards programme will be simplified by merging with the existing account setup process, allowing 25 million travellers who were not already enrolled in Expedia's loyalty program to start earning points on travel experiences the next time they log in. Expedia will be introducing additional benefits to the Expedia Rewards loyalty program over the course of the year making it easier for travellers to understand how they can earn and use points while providing a richer programme offering. Expedia also recently launched the ability to shop by lodging amenities, as well as a new flight shopping experience to provide travellers with a clear view of their flight options so they can make informed choices.

Like many companies, Expedia Group as a whole was also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It witnessed a 67% dip in revenue to US$920 million during the fourth quarter of last year compared to the same period in 2019. Meanwhile, its 2020 revenue dipped 57% to US$5.2 million compared to 2019. According to Expedia, fourth quarter results were negatively impacted due to contra-revenue related to customer claims created during COVID-19 in connection with third-party insurance.

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