Last week, we covered the many key changes and updates that have arrived to the Expedia mobile application. And from what I can tell mobile is big area of development and excitement for the company, it really gives them the option to create unique and worthwhile experiences for their customers. I had the chance to speak with Jerald Singh, the head of mobile at Expedia about this new experience they have to build and design for. Mobile is hot a new landscape, it is an ever-growing and fast-moving workspace, especially with wearables becoming mainstream and seeing how they can fit in with the traditional application experience. Check out my full interview with Jerald Singh below!
How does Expedia go about finding out what consumers want to see from the service in general, as well as for the mobile application?
Jerald Singh: By listening to and understanding how people use our services. We recognized that mobile would become a huge part of the business, we just didn’t know how fast or how big it would become. Expedia started as a business built for PCs using this new thing called the internet. Today, we’re among the first to recognize what a huge opportunity exists in travel with the rise of mobile devices. So, regardless of the device, we want to provide the best experience for our travelers.
We’ve focused on investing heavily in new technology and intelligence to stay innovative, relevant and nimble in today’s rapidly changing consumer tech landscape. Expedia has made huge investments in mobile to better meet the needs of travelers around the world to be more agile and meet the demands of travelers’ growing last minute booking needs and providing a full range of travel products and features.
The real secret behind Expedia’s recent investment isn’t about any one big bet. It’s about the game of inches, about optimizing every click, every pixel, every interaction. Even if we fail more than half the time, that means we have hundreds of wins – a feat worth celebrating. Most importantly, we use customer data to drive our test and learn philosophy which ensures our customers get the right experience in order to feel confident about their travel decision.
With the upcoming release of Watch OS 2 for the Apple Watch, how do you see the Expedia app taking advantage of the new software features?
Jerald Singh: We are looking to expand upon the type of content we push out to travelers via notifications including weather, local headlines, etc. for their destinations as well as just improved communication to our travelers. For now, we’re continuing to learn what customers find most valuable, then we will focus our attention on those findings.
Did Expedia develop their own information for the new activities section?
Jerald Singh: The local activities are actually offered through Expedia Local Expert (LX), a leading provider of activities and destination experiences that offers expertise and assistance in booking events, activities, tours, attractions, ground transportation and other services to our consumers in hundreds of destinations around the world.
Expedia LX draws from a rich portfolio of thousands of tours and adventures across the globe, and these services are available online, over the phone and face-to-face at one of our many concierge and activity desks in more than 100 hotels and other retail locations worldwide. You can explore some of them for yourself by visiting www.expedia.com and clicking “Things to Do” in the horizontal search pane to input a destination and sample dates to check out some of the types of activities available.
A limited number of Expedia local activities in key U.S. destinations were added to the Expedia app to launch this new feature on mobile, and more will be added in future software updates.
Out of the all of the new features added to the mobile application, which one do you think has been the most popular?
Jerald Singh: We’ve been busy adding new platforms to our mobile app since it was first introduced. The Expedia app saves time (and money) when booking travel and the interface is easy to navigate and requires fewer than a dozen finger taps to select a flight. But I think what travelers enjoy most are the notifications and ease of use (for all the features). The launch screen provides all necessary information at your fingertips. And if your flight is cancelled, your hotel is overbooked, or you need to speed up the time to book a car, we’ll let you know. These seemingly small notifications and features help save time, but also help establish peace of mind that the app is operating on your behalf.
What can we expect from Expedia’s mobile applications in the future?
Jerald Singh: Some of the biggest challenges we are currently facing today are driving downloads and engagement for apps. Travel doesn’t necessarily happen very often for some people (although we would love to be able to allow them to). But, our app users are very loyal, so we are now focused on getting people to come back and use us more or rely on us for additional information. We are working on some cool things in the mobile space, so more to come for sure!