Expedia to Power Travel for Mastercard-Connected Banks

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Skift Take

Expedia Group has a strong – and growing – business to business segment that is about a quarter of its overall revenue. Booking Holdings and Hopper are nipping at Expedia’s heels.

Expedia Group and Mastercard are teaming to power a loyalty points redemption program that enables banks and credit unions that issue Mastercards to enable their cardholders to redeem credit card loyalty points after booking Expedia-provided trips.

Mastercard has partnerships with numerous co-branded card issuers, including Chase Card Services, Citi Retail Services, and Capital One, for example, that can potentially tap into the Mastercard-Expedia Group loyalty services, although some of these Mastercard partners already use rival travel providers.

Hopper, for example, is the travel provider for Capital One Travel.

The Mastercard-Expedia Group partnership has Expedia providing a booking template, which it calls its white label template technology, and Mastercard chips in with its digital redemption solution.

The partnership means that travelers who have co-branded Mastercards from participating banks can redeem Mastercard points when they book their trips.

Expedia Group made the announcement Tuesday at its Explore 23: Connect partner conference, which moved for the first time from its traditional Las Vegas venue to Expedia Group headquarters in Seattle. Expedia Group moved into the building in 2019, several months before the onset of the pandemic.

The Mastercard partnership was one of a series of Expedia announcements touting its business to business segment, which saw its revenue grow 55 percent year over year in the first quarter to $668 million.

Expedia’s business to business segment, which includes partnerships with major banks, airlines and hotel chains such as Marriott, IHG, Hilton and Accor, is a key part of Expedia’s growth strategy. Business to business revenue accounted for 25 percent of Expedia’s total revenue in the first quarter.

Expedia stated that more than 400 million people tied to the loyalty programs of major banks, airlines and hotels benefit from the company’s white label template and API solutions, which provide connectivity to partners.

“The demand for this business continues to be strong as evidenced by our new partnerships with Mastercard, SoFi, and some of our biggest partners,” Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern said in a statement.

He said the company’s business to business segment is poised to grow further “as we continue to establish our tech as the primary operating system for the travel industry.”

Rivals, such as Booking Holdings and Hopper, may have something to say about such hoped-for dominance as they have struck many such business-to-business deals of their own.

Ariane Gorin, president of the company’s Expedia for Business, said in the announcement that Expedia’s technology assets, which include artificial intelligence and machine learning, have “grown phenomenally” in the past 10 years as the company powers travel for both online offline partners.

Citing the $2 trillion travel industry, Gorin said there is plenty of room for Expedia to grow this part of its partner business.

There is also lots of competition, although Expedia Group’s business to business segment is believed to be the largest in the travel industry. As a reflection of the competitive nature of the business, Expedia powers part of Chase Travel, but lost the flights component of that business. Both Booking Holdings and Hopper have been forging new partnerships.

More Loyalty and Services

In other parts of the Expedia announcement, the company said in the second half of 2023 it plans to debut a guest experience score in collaboration with hotel partners.

With Expedia poised to launch its consolidated One Key loyalty program in the U.S. on July 6, the company said it will add member-only deals on flights to its existing roster of such discounts on hotels, cruises and activities.

In an update, Expedia stated that its previously announced micro-services offering for partners, called Travel OS, “has now reached commercial status” in the area of fraud protection. Additional parts of Travel OS, namely “service tech and a revenue management API,” are now being tested with partners.

Expedia also has an “optimized distribution” tech program, which helps partners, including Marriott and IHG, police rogue rates that are not meant to be widely available to the public on a standalone basis. Many of these rates are supposed to be part of vacation packages, and therefore the price of the hotel isn’t disclosed.

Expedia said it tripled the number of hotel partners using its optimized distribution solution over the last two years, and will be rolling out new rate management tech as part of the program later this year.

Some 35,000 travel agencies in the U.S. in more than 30 countries now participate in Expedia’s Travel Agent Affiliate program, the company said. The program includes a Live Agent chat to help travel agents get answers to questions.

Expedia said that in the first quarter, 32 percent of all travel agent interactions with the company in the U.S. flowed through this Live Agent chat.

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