As part of the slew of updates revealed at Expedia Group’s Explore partner event last week, the online travel giant unveiled additional details about its unified loyalty program, first announced in September of last year.
Called One Key, the program will allow loyalty members to earn and burn points across Expedia Groupsuch as Expedia, Vrbo, Hotels.com and Travelocity, for any travel product including flights, hotels, vacation rentals, cars and cruises.
The revamped program – allowing a traveler, for example, to earn points on a Vrbo stay to use them later on an Expedia flight – is designed to create connectivity across all Expedia Group brands and build long-term customer loyalty.
“The industry has trained travelers to go for the lowest price. We’re trying to create a pivot here to build long-term customer loyalty to keep people coming back, so their first thought is to come to one of our brands because of the benefits we offer,” says Jon Gieselman, president of Expedia Brands. .
“[Expedia Group] brands were in competition in the past. Travelers don’t understand that we are a family of brands. This connection is our superpower.
According to Gieselman, Expedia Group’s loyalty programs have 154 million members and are adding about two million each month. “To put that into perspective, if you add up all of our rewards members, we would be the ninth largest country in the world by population,” he says.
“It is [currently] through four programs each with different currencies, different perks, different rewards mechanisms,” he continues, noting that some brands such as Vrbo and Travelocity do not currently have loyalty programs.
“It’s confusing, limiting and not in the best interest of travellers.”
Subscribe to our newsletter below
By uniting the programs under One Key, travelers can earn more by accessing rewards across the entire Expedia Group portfolio, while partners should see not only revenue gains (high-value loyal members book 15 times more than non-loyal customers), but also increased brand loyalty.
Gieselman says Expedia Group will be “intentional” to move people from existing loyalty programs to the new One Key currency. “Yes, [points] need to be reassessed because in all of our different programs there are different values,” he says.
“We will migrate people in ways that create additional value for them. No one needs to worry about their points. They are our most loyal customers and we will do what is right for the customer.
While declining to go into more detail about how the points will be reassessed, Gieselman says the first priority is to get people onto the new platform, which will launch next year.
Marketing-wise, while the average consumer might not realize that brands such as Vrbo, Hotels.com and Travelocity are all part of the Expedia Group family, Gieselman says the company has already begun to communicate on the relationship, pointing to his recent Super Bowl commercials as an example.
For Peter Kern of Expedia Group, the vice president and CEO compares his family of brands to the Marvel universe. “We don’t want to fight for the last traveler,” he said. “We do better if we help each other.”
* The journalist’s presence at the event was supported by Expedia Group.