Expedia Upgrades the Travel Menu


Online travel operation Expedia, determined to stay among the front-runners
in this ultra-competitive e-commerce segment, launched a Build Your Own Trip
tool that lets customers add services and activities at their destinations.


The tool, featured prominently on the Expedia home page and part of a new
shopping cart type service, lets consumers make arrangements for things like
theme park tickets and ground transportation while completing their flight or
hotel reservations.


Bellevue, Wash.-based Expedia said that customers are
now “able to choose which travel components, locations, and dates they need,
and then can decide which hotel, flight, car rental or activities they want
within those components.”


In other words, you can book a whole itinerary all at once, instead of having
to do it one thing at a time — a nice feature that gives Expedia a leg up on
some of its larger competitors. It’s not a first, however — E-Vacations.com, operated by Rail
Europe Group and U.S. tour operator Avanti Destinations, has been offering a
similar service for leisure travelers for some time.


“More important than how you get to your destination is what you do when you
get there,” said Erik Blachford, president of Expedia for North America. “For
business travelers, it might be as simple as ground transportation so they
can get downtown for their meeting. For leisure travelers, it might be a
variety of activities — from tours of Stonehenge to sea kayaking near San
Diego.”


The new services apparently capitalize on synergies with Expedia’s new sister
company, ticket seller Ticketmaster Inc. . The two
companies developed a relationship when USA Interactive Inc. acquired a
controlling interest
in Expedia from Microsoft Corp.
last February.


Expedia said its Shopping Cart services are built on top of Expedia’s Expert
Searching and Pricing (ESP) platform. As customers add components, their trip
is re-priced in real time, and, after booking, travelers can then view and
print the vouchers they need.


“… by providing Expedia’s Shopping Cart services atop the ESP platform, we
are breaking beyond the bounds of ‘packages’ and instead providing travelers
with flexible and complete trips,” Blachford said.

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