Expedia Everywhere: President Scott Durchslag Says They’re Open For Business with Travel Bloggers

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This past Monday, Expedia hosted Blogger Day 2011 in Seattle which was designed to bring a group of travel bloggers together with a group of key executives from Expedia in order to delve into a range of topics and discuss how some of Expedia’s recent initiatives could be beneficial in tackling some of the bloggers’ own challenges.

After meeting up for an informal lunch, which served as a bit of an ice breaker, the group (of which two lucky Travelllll.com readers and I were a part) traveled to Expedia’s global headquarters for a session with President of Expedia Worldwide Scott Durchslag.

Durchslag began by sharing Expedia’s strategy known as Expedia Everywhere. “My aspiration is nothing short of putting a personalized travel assistant in everybody’s pocket,” he explained. He plans to get there by implementing a five point plan that includes creating a new booking engine, providing an easier and more powerful mobile experience, adding a social layer that gives travelers the tools to share memories and reviews on the spot, innovating a “place market” and introducing a loyalty program that encourages and rewards loyalty.

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“The future of travel is Web 3.0 and Web 3.0 is all about the place market and the power of place,” stressed Durchslag. “A place market is the intersection of the destination graph, which is all the knowledge and information about the places people are traveling to and all of the booking information that goes along with that, crossed with a social graph and an interest graph. Bringing those three together describes the boundaries of the place market.”

In closing, Durchslag made a point to add that, “It’s really important to me that customers understand how to get the best travel experience they possibly can. That’s not something I can put in a thirty second TV ad. The beauty of you guys is you have a connection with your readers that allows you to explain things more fully and I think that’s really important in terms of where all this is going.”

Once the session concluded, the travel bloggers broke off into a few smaller groups. Each of these breakaway groups was lead by another key executive and covered topics such as mobile apps and emerging platforms.

The day ended with a trip to a luxury sky box at CenturyLink Field from which the entire group took in a Monday Night Football game that matched the Seattle Seahawks versus the St. Louis Rams. While I must admit that I did not really see much of the game, I had some smashing conversations with a number of very personable and impressive people.

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Spencer Spellman, a San Francisco based blogger who runs the site The Traveling Philosopher and works with Expedia explained:

I got the sense from Expedia and bloggers that there wasn’t a feeling of pressure or expectation. It really had the sense of marking the beginning of a long dialogue that Expedia wishes to have with bloggers about how they can effectively work together. It’s no surprise that the travel industry and, especially, major players in the travel industry have been slow on the uptake with things like blogging and social media. Spending the day with bloggers, decision makers, and not just PR people … communicated that bloggers are an integral part of them moving forward. This is forward thinking that isn’t being adopted by a lot of companies, although I think there is a wind of change that is taking place in the travel industry and this is evidence of that.

Chris Gray Faust, editor of the travel blog Chris Around The World, sees it as a “step forward when major travel brands such as Expedia consider bloggers a primary outlet for their message. Time will tell if the company decides to pursue further partnerships or sponsorships, which is where most bloggers hope things are going.”

Overall, the event seemed to be very well received by all who were involved and I believe the writing was clearly on the wall (in big green neon lights). Expedia wants to pursue some fun and innovative ventures with travel bloggers and wants to do so now.

Are you a savvy travel blogger with a cool or innovative idea for how you as a travel blogger could work with Expedia? Leave us a comment and Expedia might just see it.

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22 Responses to “Expedia Everywhere: President Scott Durchslag Says They’re Open For Business with Travel Bloggers”

  1. Nancy D. Brown December 16, 2011 3:28 am
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    Great re-cap, Rich. I am very pleased that Expedia has taken the first steps in reaching out to travel bloggers. It truly is a win-win situation for both Expedia and the blogger. The Expedia folks were personable, professional and open to suggestions on working together.

    Let’s hope more companies follow suit.

  2. Jan Ross December 16, 2011 4:03 am
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    OK, you asked for some ideas, so here ya go. I have been mulling over organizing a trip called “Following the Whales” where I would travel to Alaska in the summer and Hawaii in the winter to follow the humpback whales on their annual migration. I’d like to take small cruise ships, interview and work with whale experts, and partner with local Destination Marketing Organizations and Expedia to get the word out about the trip via social marketing. I have a travel blog, but I also write for several other online venues and, in addition, I write for several print magazines, so I could cover different aspects of the trip, such as destinations, etc. in the print media. You can check my blog for samples of my writing, most specifically on the “Published” page and you can also see info about PR and a sample case study on the “Work with Me” page. I’ll be glad to provide more details and information, if Expedia is interested!

  3. Eurotrip Tips December 16, 2011 4:33 am
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    I think this is great news. It’s always great to see major companies like Expedia being proactive and eager to work with new trends, like blogging in this case. It only makes them even more appealing to travel bloggers and regular customers alike. Can’t wait to see developments on this project!

  4. Red December 16, 2011 5:19 am
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    I was following some people who went to the event and this is great news. Expedia is a brand I’ve admired for many years, so it makes perfect sense. Let’s see what exciting developments happen in 2012!

  5. Andrew Hickey December 16, 2011 5:25 am
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    Love seeing more and more big companies looking to bloggers for partnerships. G Adventures has been big on bloggers for quite some time and have some cool things planned with their Wanderers in Residence program in 2012. Kudos to Expedia for thinking outside the box.

  6. Paul / MyPostcardFrom December 16, 2011 9:04 am
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    Good news that companies like Expedia are taking notice of bloggers.

    It will be interesting to see how this goes and to be hopefully a part of what is to come.

  7. Deb December 16, 2011 11:09 am
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    I just have to say, Dave looks so cute in that hat. Elfman! He looks like he’s getting ready for Christmas. Great meeting you in Seattle Rich. Expedia is a leader in their field and it is exciting to see the great things they are doing. We enjoyed meeting all of the execs and look forward to exploring all the possibilities with them in the future. Great event!

  8. Raymond @ Man On The Lam December 16, 2011 11:22 am
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    It’s good to see the big guys starting to embrace bloggers (or at least starting a dialogue with them). Most of the luck I’ve had has been with smaller tour companies who see the value in working with a blogger who has a larger social network than they have.

    Love those hats too. 🙂

  9. Rich Whitaker December 16, 2011 1:47 pm
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    It was so nice to finally meet you and Dave as well…

  10. Rich Whitaker December 16, 2011 1:50 pm
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    Thanks, Nancy. It was really nice to see you again…

  11. Sherry Jackson December 16, 2011 2:17 pm
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    Great news! As a blogger, I would love to work with Expedia. I like that they are working with real writers, not “citizen journalists” as some other companies have tried. Professionalism and engaging and factual content is what will drive them to the top

  12. Christina S. December 16, 2011 4:21 pm
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    Great post – I’d love to see Expedia engage a blogger(s) to create a “digital nomad.” Travel (on planes, cruise lines, rental cars, complete vacation packages) is booked through Expedia and then the nomad live Tweets/blogs for Expedia throughout the trip. The travel would be geared toward different demographics, so there could be several nomad’s – family travel, DINK (Double Income No Kids) travel (my specialty), solo travel, budget travel. Maybe the nomad’s rotate monthly?

    National Geographic Traveler does this so successfully, that I’d love to see other travel companies do the same. I think a lot of people outside the travel blogging world see people who travel frequently to be glamorous and rich, when we’re pretty much exactly the opposite. Social media is a great way to demonstrate that.

  13. Sarah Keeling December 16, 2011 7:58 pm
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    Hi Jan,

    Sounds interesting! We love to celebrate passionate travelers. Ping me on Twitter at @sarahwaffle and let’s chat. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Sarah

  14. Jane Meighan December 18, 2011 11:13 am
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    It’s nice to see big travel companies like Expedia recognising the benefits of working with travel bloggers.

  15. Alastair McKenzie December 18, 2011 12:28 pm
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    Sorry Andrew. Found this comment was buried in the spam folder.

  16. Kirsten December 18, 2011 6:16 pm
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    I have been making strides toward working more with brands in 2012 – like Expedia. I don’t think blog traffic numbers are the most important factor in deciding who one should work with and while it seems like the bloggers invited to the Seattle event certainly had them I’d love to see others invited to share ideas with Expedia too (on a one-on-one basis, not just in a comments section). I think what G Adventures has done with bloggers in their “Wanderers in Residence” program has been great but there are so many other ways that photographers, writers and bloggers can be utilized. It would be wonderful if Expedia took a more hands on role in helping the companies they support and promote be more involved in the social sphere. As someone who has had success with social media – I’d love to help hotels, tour companies, airlines etc in learning how to better engage customers using SM. I’d love to give them more “out of the box” ideas on how to be social as well, beyond merely tweeting. Just one thing I am passionate about. There are certainly more where that came from.

  17. Kirsten December 18, 2011 6:18 pm
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    I’d certainly be available for that job to try and engage my demographic of younger, single woman so they’re more likely to book (or continue to book) through Expedia. It’s an excellent plan Christina.

  18. Bob Berwyn December 18, 2011 7:07 pm
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    Sounds like a good way to connect travelers seeking information with some real voices. Looking forward to exploring some of the content. As an expert on Colorado and skiing, I’d love to hear about opportunities for writing.

  19. Emiel December 18, 2011 7:48 pm
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    Great news. Travel bloggers do want to use their strengths to reshape the way people experience traveling. We have great stories (about destinations but also about how to improve our way of traveling) and more importantly, we own a strong and extensive network of local travel experts.
    I travel with my family including two young children aged 8 and 10. Among others I blog about family travel and work closely together with a global network of around 15 family travel bloggers. We know what families want and need while they travel and we know the best sights for families in our country, region or city. It’s about time family travel bloggers and companies like Expedia bring family travel to the next level…

  20. Shelley Seale December 19, 2011 8:16 pm
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    Sarah, I have a terrific idea on this and would love to run it past you.
    Shelley

  21. Lisa @chickybus December 25, 2011 3:32 pm
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    I’m happy to see that Expedia would like to collaborate with travel bloggers; I really think this could be a win-win situation!

    One idea I’d be open to exploring would be an Expedia Everywhere: Around the World in 90 Days sort of trip, which I would take this summer with Expedia’s help/sponsorship. I have an incredible itinerary I’m considering (3 continents with multiple stops on each), but I’m not sure how to pull it off. Perhaps, with sponsorship, I could take this trip and explain to readers exactly how Expedia (via its mobile tools, etc.) allowed me to be “everywhere” I wanted/needed to go. Not only would readers get to vicariously experience my journey, but they would see just how easy it was, thanks to Expedia. 🙂

  22. La Viajera Morena February 7, 2012 4:39 am
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    It is great when companies like Expedia see the value of travel bloggers. I myself am a huge fan of travel blogs and a blogger myself. Advertising and sponsorship opportunities have helped many of the bloggers I know who travel around the world for a living, which I hope do do in the near future.

    Thanks for the article 🙂

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