My placement year at Expedia Group

Sofia Pisacane | Marketing Intern in London

If I had to describe my placement year at Expedia in one word I would say “brilliant” and it was, absolutely brilliant.

I joined in July 2018 as a Marketing Industrial Trainee and with this week being my last week, I can now confidently say that choosing to do a placement year as part of my degree was one of the best decisions I’ve made.

I worked in the Expedia Partner Solutions Marketing team in London where I had the opportunity to rotate every four months to support the different sub-teams within Marketing: Digital, Brand & Campaigns and Product Marketing. The structure of my internship was great because it gave me exposure to a variety of different activities within Marketing, allowing me to try different things, which I believe, especially at the start of your career, is incredibly valuable.

From organizing events to planning and executing Digital Marketing campaigns such as LinkedIn Advertising, to working on our first ABM (Account-Based Marketing) project, there are so many initiatives I’ve been involved in. Not only I was involved in them, but I was also given the opportunity to take the lead on a few of them and this is probably one of the things I love the most about Expedia, you can get as much responsibility as you like, no matter your level of experience, as long as you work hard and are able to show positive results. 

The Partner Marketing team at the WTM partner appreciation event in London.

Only a few weeks ago I flew to Prague to coordinate our stand presence at a preferred supplier showcase event organized by one of our partners, which was a great experience. 

I felt like a valued member of the team from day one, my opinions were valued and taken into account, which was definitely a big motivator for me.

I was really surprised about how, even senior stakeholders, truly welcome new ideas and value a fresh perspective on things. This is definitely one of Expedia’s top strengths because it creates an environment that favors innovation.

My manager genuinely cared about my professional development and he scheduled regular meetings to talk about my progress, what things interested me the most and what skills I wanted to work on next. I feel really grateful for all the support he gave me throughout the course of my internship. 

I worked alongside some really talented people and I was able to learn a lot from them and over time I was able to build strong relationships with my teammates. They’re such a great bunch of people and I’m definitely going to miss them when I go back to university, even though we’ll surely keep in touch!

Looking back, I can say that this year has been a great year, I’ve learned a lot and gained invaluable experience which enabled me to grow, both professionally and personally. Overall I couldn’t have been happier about my time here.

Global Early Talent

Ready to kick start your career? Explore Expedia Groups’ worldwide intern, apprentice, and early career opportunities. Learn More



Expedia Group Research Summit

Tammy Snow | Senior Director of User Research, Expedia in Bellevue

Sometimes, all it takes is a small spark to ignite something incredible.

Last fall, one of the researchers on my team suggested that a get together with the Vrbo, brand Expedia and Lodging Partner Services (LPS) research teams might be a good idea. I agreed but envisioned something even bigger.

My dream was to bring together all researchers—user researchers, brand insights & market researchers—across Expedia Group, so we could information share, learn from each other and most importantly, discover ways to collaborate across the platform. I raised the idea with Sarah Gavin, Expedia Group’s VP of corporate communications and she was immediately on board.

The rest was history.

On June 18-19, the first annual Expedia Group Research Summit took place in San Francisco with over 70 researchers and research groupies across the globe coming together to fulfill the objective of creating a sense of community and trust across Expedia Group’s research discipline. From all indications, the event was a massive success!

Here are my top 5 takeaways from the Summit:

  1. We have an amazingly talented, passionate, and diverse group of researchers at Expedia Group. I’m willing to make the claim that we have the best researchers in the travel industry! On Day One of the Summit, there were 12 breakout sessions where researchers from each of the brand teams presented their work. We heard about a broad range of topics including trust, neuroscience in ad testing, the influence Generation Alpha has on travel decisions and more.

    Every one of the presentations contained incredible content and were delivered with polish and professionalism. On the second day, we split into 6 cross-brand groups to workshop actions that we could take to solve 6 distinct problems that align with Expedia Group’s strategic imperatives. Each team gave an 8-minute pitch to explain their ideas, methodologies and suggested actions to our panel of executive judges.

    All of the pitches were incredible. In the end, there were two winning pitches. The runners up suggested actions Expedia Group can take to attract and delight lodging partners with research. The winning pitch was delivered by a team that defined collaborative actions we can take to test brand creative from concept to live.

2. We needed an event like this to establish a foundation of synergy and trust across the Expedia Group research discipline. Two fun facts for you readers: First, those of us with research as part of our role make up only .3% of the overall Expedia Group employee base. Second, researchers are sort of funny about trusting other researchers until we’ve had a chance to work together. It was inspiring and rewarding to see every researcher at the Summit embrace the idea of operating as one team. We made great progress in collaborating during the event and have clear next steps that we will take as a unified group of researchers over the next several months. All of these steps are focused on helping Expedia Group be more customer and partner centric.

3. There is an appetite and need for researchers to continue sharing information and best practices. It was clear throughout the course of the two days (and particularly when hearing the workshop pitches) that we have a need to find ways to better share research best practices and insights.

One of the key actions coming out of the Summit is to find or revise an existing repository for sharing all of our research insights. Another key set of actions relates to aligning on approaches for measuring site and app experiences as well as brand creative. As we make progress on alignment, the quality and cost efficiency of our research efforts will undoubtedly improve.

4. Technology companies known for customer centricity are pervasively obsessed with putting their users at the core of their decisions. On Day 2 we hosted a panel with representatives from three customer-centric organizations: Slack, Poshmark and Pinterest. Each of the representatives have roles in their organizations that are related to – but not part of research.

One of the more interesting titles was the storyteller from Pinterest whose job it is to share stories about their users (better known as Pinners) to ensure that customers are at the heart of everything Pinterest does. What stood out from this panel is that each of these organizations have customer obsession as part of their corporate DNA. One of my favorite anecdotes was from our guest speaker from Slack, who talked about how they were getting frequent requests to add a “like” feature for Slack posts. As this feedback was considered, the Slack team decided to go the extra mile and instead of offering a “like” feature they decided to add emojis. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the Slack emojis!

Expedia Group leadership is committed to making customer centricity a reality. We were fortunate to have executives from each of the brands attend the Summit and participate as our executive judging panel for the workshops and in an executive panel later that day.

5. Our CEO, Mark Okerstrom, was our closing keynote speaker. The fact that our leaders were willing to take time out of their busy schedules and attend this event with our researchers, the people at Expedia Group who spend all of our time observing, listening to and understanding customers and partners, is a testament to their commitment to our strategic imperative to walk in our customers’ shoes. In addition to our fearless leader, Aman Bhutani and Arthur Chapin from Brand Expedia, Tina Weyand from Vrbo, Josh Crossick from Hotels.com, Neha Parikh from Hotwire, and Jay Fluegel from GCO helped make this vision a reality. It was clear from our executives’ feedback that they value the role of research and are fully committed to continuing on our journey of being customer-centric.

Finally, the Summit would not have been possible without our group of amazing research leaders and their commitment to making the event a success. I want to give a special thank you to: Adam Smolinski from Brand Expedia Group, Chris Matthews from Hotels.com, Karen Swanson from Brand Expedia Group & LPS, Karl Steiner from Vrbo, and Rachael Wussow from Hotwire.

The research team weren’t the only employees who came together as a platform for the Summit – I must give a huge thank you to the amazing team who did all of the planning, programming and organizing for the Summit: Sarah Gavin, VP of corporate communications; Mallorie Mach and Alison Kwong Vrbo’s PR and communications team; Carolin Fuller, Hotwire PR; Carrie Adams, Executive Admin for BEXG UX and Research teams; Dave McDowell, Lab tech for BEXG. And finally, Victoria Cagliero from the EG corporate communications team who took the lead in planning and coordinating this entire platform initiative and made our dream a reality. You are amazing!

Expedia Group Dads Share the Power of Paternity Leave

Lauren von Stackelberg | Director, Industry Relations in London

Countries around the world mark Father’s Day on different dates and at least 86 nations will be observing the occasion the week of June 16th. Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the dads in our lives and an opportunity to reflect on how we support not only fathers in the workplace, but families at home.

According to a 2016 report by the National Partnership for Women & Families, 41% of Americans have employers that provide paid paternity leave to some workers, and only 9% work for companies that provide paid paternity leave to all. And even when a company offers leave, many men are reluctant to take the time off, as one in three men said that they feared the stigma associated with paternity leave.

Expedia Group has one of the most comprehensive paternity leave plans today to provide dads with time to bond with their newborns, support their family, and enable their partners to return to the work force to support gender equality. Anyone who has spent long hours with an infant knows the joys of watching momentous milestones, from first smiles to first steps, and the many challenging hours spent trying to get them to eat and sleep.

Parenting is hard, wonderful, messy, fulfilling and never boring. On this Father’s Day, we celebrate all the amazing dads of Expedia Group, and those who shared their paternity leave story. Enjoy!

Chris Hodges | Director, Business Development

I feel so lucky that I was able to take advantage of paternity leave after the birth of my daughter Grace. For me to be able to spend quality time with my wife and newborn in those precious early stages of life allowed me to create bonding moments that are priceless. I was initially nervous to go out on leave, but I had so much support from my boss and my team and I’m so grateful for that. And am excited to be taking pat leave again in a couple of months when my twins are born.

Nicolas Grande | Area Manager, MM Argentina

At the end of 2018, I faced one of the most difficult challenges in my life when my third child was born–I needed to help my wife as well as support my other kids. Even though I knew we had the paternity leave benefit, it took me a while to make the decision to use it. Now, I can say the paternity leave was a key moment both in my life and my professional career. I was able to enjoy my newborn and all of my family without worrying about my job, as I was supported by my Manager and all my team. I believe life is about moments–I strongly encourage you to fully enjoy the most important ones.

Nico Daudin | Senior Director, Program Development

I went on paternity leave in 2018 to take care of my first son. I was a bit afraid at first to take the time off. I had a ton of questions that were racing in my head: Would I know how to handle parenting alone? Would my team be ok? Would it impact my career negatively? However, thanks to the support of my boss, my team and the other product leaders, I took it and couldn’t be more grateful that I did!

Not only was I able to create a special bond with my son, but the time off also helped my career. It empowered everyone on my team to be even more autonomous, which increased their performance. It also gave me the time to really think about our product strategy and how to improve our overall performance. That’s a pretty amazing ROI when you think about it.

Jonathan Harris | Senior Manager, Business Development and Initiatives

I’m so grateful that the company has a culture where taking time off to nurture a baby is not only offered for men, but strongly encouraged. The fact that several senior leaders and members of my team had already paved the way with their own leave made my transition easier. I was able to completely disconnect for the full 12 weeks, although spending entire days with my daughter Erika felt like anything but “time off” – she is a far more demanding boss than anyone I have worked for at LPS!

Mike Doyle | Director, Market Management

My life got turned upside down in June 2017 with the birth of triplets. Yes, triplets. With no family living nearby, my wife and I had no idea how we would be able to handle this. It would have to be the ultimate team effort and would require time to get in sync with each other. Thankfully, we have a great paternity leave benefit at Expedia Group and my boss was fully supportive of me taking the full leave in order to bond with my new family. This afforded me the time needed to adjust to a “new normal.” It allowed me to spend quality time bonding with my kids while learning how to be a triplet parent. (Honestly though, I’m still learning). I felt no pressure from the workplace while I was out. When I came back to work, I got a great welcome from the Denver team and was allowed to gradually acclimate back into my role. I’m grateful for having this benefit – and the support to be able to use it.

Nicholas Ursini | Director, Strategic Accounts

We are fortunate to work for a company that offers a generous parental leave policy and it seems like it should be a no brainer decision, but I still was uncertain about taking the time off! Having an open dialogue and having overwhelming support from my leadership really helped me take paternity leave. Looking back, the time I had with my wife and son Theo was irreplaceable! It also helped reduce pressure for my wife, who had to go back to work (although she did check in on us a lot, to make sure we were both alive)!

Shuhei Kondo | LPA II, MO Kuala Lumpur

When I had my second child, I couldn’t take long leave due to my previous company’s benefit/policy. It was hard for my wife to take care of 2 kids alone as our family is living far away. Four years later, when our third child was born, I was able to spend quality time with our new family member as well as my wife, son and second daughter. I am grateful that our company offers such a great benefit to even fathers. I had a great time with my kids.

Jeffrey Scheidt | Area Manager, MM US Casino Markets

Our paternity leave at Expedia Group has been such a blessing, as I’ve recently returned to work from my second paternity leave. Taking the full 12 weeks of new parent leave allowed for both myself and my wife to adjust to our new journey of parenthood while embracing every moment of our kids. Being home to catch their milestone achievements, like the first laugh or the first time they rolled over, are moments that I’ll never forget and am extremely grateful to have.
 

Sachin Kumar | LPA III, MO Gurgaon

“Fatherhood is a feeling which cannot be put into words appropriately, ’til the day it’s experienced”. This was something I was told by my father and it was in the month of February 2019 when I really understood it. Since it’s a first time feeling, I wasn’t sure how it would be or how I’d be able to care for my child. Living away from my parents, with no previous experience, I was a bit nervous, curious, and excited at the same time. Being blessed with a son, he has brought a sea of change into our lives in terms of everything that we do. He has become the center of our lives, bringing all positive changes to our relationship and marriage. There has been so much learning in these first three months: my ability to communicate has improved by trying to understand my newborn son’s crying, cooing, and gurgling! In short, it’s a unique, ongoing experience and I’m loving every bit of it. I hold heartfelt gratitude that Expedia has supported these initial days of parenthood in such a beautiful way so that I could give undivided attention to my son during the very early days of infancy.

David Hamblin | Vice President, MM APAC

Taking paternity leave was an amazing experience and opportunity to spend time not only with my daughter, but also bonding as a family. It was a really important period for all of us to spend some quality, family-focused time. Taking paternity leave when Aliya was just 3-months old, I could also see the difference it made in my relationship with her (I got my first “Dada” before going back to work). It’s a priceless time that I’m really thankful to have had. My team, manager, and peers were fantastic in supporting me to really switch off and fully focus on my wife, son, and new daughter.

Paternity leave: a great employee benefit

Johan Hallgren | Analytics Data & Strategy Manager (Lodging) in Seoul, South Korea

My role in Expedia Group

I started my Expedia Group career in Geneva (Switzerland), covering lodging in the Asia-Pacific region. However, I requested country reassignment when my wife got the opportunity to relocate to South Korea for a new position with the United Nations.

My smooth transfer was concrete proof to me that Expedia Group with its global presence is a great long-term career platform, especially with my family’s need to relocate every few years.

I am happy to say that I love my job. The role gives great exposure, close working relationships with top leadership, and excellent opportunities to drive results and influence company direction.

I am involved in almost every commercial topic imaginable like property acquisition strategy, headcount allocation, marketing, margins and competitive intelligence. Whilst projects most often start with deep analysis, recommendations and deck production for presentation to leadership, I am also often part of building technical solutions and implementing them across our 500+ APAC lodging organization.

This tangible implementation link after analysis is something I value tremendously, especially considering my previous work experiences in banking and finance where I constantly was missing this; I like to both plan and execute.

Meanwhile, South Korea is fantastic with absolutely wonderful people and indeed truck loads of Korean barbeque together with the occasional makgeolli (Korean rice wine). 감사합니다, Korea!

Work-life balance

Whilst I love my job and the company, I certainly love my wife and two kids even more. I want to spend all the time in the world with them, while exploring it together.

Being an expatriate family with frequent travel means that forging work-life balance is crucial for our children and us as a family unit. This is complicated further by the fact that our closest family members are spread across Europe and North America, whilst we live in Asia.

In practice, work-life balance is seldom easy to achieve on a daily basis. The exciting weekend trips and solid vacation blocks encouraged by the company are part of that puzzle. Right now, backyard Tokyo is a weekend family favourite; we cannot stop marvelling how perfectly run this megacity seems to be, and the food is top notch.

My wife & daughter en route to Sweden for baby delivery at 36 weeks.

Another good example of how Expedia Group has been a strong enabler of work-life balance was when we had the chance to return to Sweden for the birth of my second daughter – the company paternity leave benefit was crucial in making our temporary stay there a reality.

We flew back when my wife was 36 weeks pregnant. I have to admit I was nervous, but my wife was a champ!

My paternity leave

My 3-month paternity leave was key in helping our family land well with our new child, while also experiencing the best of Sweden!

We spent plenty of time with family enjoying Swedish nature, Christmas snow, and amazing cuisine, including meatballs a plenty and more than a few Swedish pizzas (only for the true pizza connoisseur).

My oldest daughter has 10 cousins in Sweden, so she could practice her Swedish a lot, and even showed them how to properly use chopsticks.

My oldest daughter (4.5 years) showing her chopsticks skills

All in all, it was a wonderful and tremendously rewarding experience for the whole family to go back. The paternity leave also gave us plenty of time to readjust back to life in Korea before returning to work.

During this paternity leave in Sweden, I also managed to have some classic Swedish saunas with my brother, with a view over my childhood lake where we used to practise competitive rowing. This was indeed my ‘pappa tajm’ (dad time).

My brother’s sauna by the lake, with a free flow of refreshing barley based beverages to battle the Finnish/military grade sauna heat

The value of a good paternity leave policy

Paternity leave feels right to me from multiple angles (company, co-workers, family and society).

  • First off, backfilling the role of the father on leave creates an opportunity for others to grow and develop: as a knowledge-driven company, this can be very impactful indeed.
  • Secondly, it is almost a natural law that new children make parents less productive and worn down due to a lack of sleep. You need a break!
  • Thirdly, turnover and replacing skilled employees is very expensive and time consuming – I am convinced this policy creates loyalty and longer company tenures.
  • Fourthly, from a societal point of view, sharing the responsibilities of an infant more equitably means that a mother is much less likely to drop out of the workforce. It makes economic sense. By allowing mothers to return to the workforce if they wish, you also create employment opportunities for caretakers that in turn create job opportunities around us.

So, while it sadly is too uncommon globally, I think a solid paternity leave policy is a no-brainer and a ‘quadruple win’. To me it is hardly surprising that Expedia Group is a top employer given such benefits, they get it right.

In my specific case, Expedia Group managed to solve my 3-month absence elegantly, by temporarily bringing in cover from Geneva. My colleague Greg came to our APAC lodging headquarters in Singapore; read about his experiences.

While checking the occasional important e-mail to stay on top of things for my return, the company’s solution was great for letting me re-enter without a huge backlog of work hanging over my head. Luckily for both me and all the travellers around the world, the sun never sets on Expedia Group!

Life as a Data Analytics Apprentice at Expedia Group

Isabelle Bentley | Data Analyst Apprentice, Hotels.com in London

Tell us about how you became a Data Analyst at Expedia Group?

After considering different positions within the tech industry I found my current skills and interests lay best with a role in Data Analytics, which I have always been eager to enter. Upon further research I found there was alternative routes to enter this specific Tech field contrary to the usual university route. This is when I learnt of degree apprenticeships, which comprised of a debt free degree and a paying full-time job. After research into the variety of companies that offer such apprenticeships, I believed Expedia Group couldn’t be beaten! Everything from their brand values, to the specificity of their Data Analyst role (Product Analytics) fit me perfectly.

What are you enjoying most about your Data Analyst Apprenticeship?

The Data Analytics field is broad, ranging from Statistics to Machine Learning. Not only am I earning a degree in one of the biggest growing industries, I will have 3 years’ experience in a highly regarded company which I believe to be invaluable. To think alternatively it would take me 3 years to just gain the degree with no industry experience reassures me I have made the best possible decision to take up a degree apprenticeship.

What are you enjoying most about your role at Expedia Group?

The role has allowed me to use my statistical and logical skills in the work place, challenge and stretch myself. On the job training also allows me to constantly update my toolbox of skills. Opportunities like this here at Expedia Group create great ways to expand your learning and interests further in ways that will help you progress within your role. At work, I do not feel like an apprentice; I feel like a valued team member, who contributes meaningful work towards projects, team and company-wide goals.

How is the qualification helping you to be successful in your role?

Studying my degree in Data Analytics at Ada allows me to fully investigate and learn further all the knowledge and techniques needed to confidently complete tasks or projects at work.

Tell us a few more details about how you became interested in Data?

My interest in Data stemmed from my interest in Mathematics! This began with primary Mathematics, just after learning addition and subtraction I was introduced to a new way to influence numbers; division and multiplication. It wasn’t enough for me to just accept that numbers could just be manipulated, I wanted to learn more. Throughout my years in education I have enjoyed linking my other subjects back to Mathematics and learning how it is the backbone of today’s industries and complex sciences. I have found that my true fascination lies in Statistical Mathematics and Data Analytics, the way that data can be analysed and interpreted to solve problems, predict an outcome or solution truly intrigues me

What are the most important skills to succeed in a career in Data?

Passion to learn. Data Analytics and the Tech field in general are constantly growing and changing industries, the applicable knowledge you know today could be irrelevant in a year, so do not feel put off if you don’t tick all the boxes. Another valuable skill is logical thinking, this will help you tackle anything from small tasks to big projects. The way in which you tackle the task can have large effects on your result, it is important to think logically from the start to increase the efficiency and promote accuracy in everything task you undertake.

What advice would you give someone else considering going down this path?

Keep yourselves updated on the latest skills and knowledge available in the field, so you are always ready to enter the industry and get involved at any time.

Any tips on how to work out if Data Analytics is for you?

If you enjoy solving problems and want to be part of the biggest growing industry which continually pushes the limits of possibility, Data Analytics is for you. I say this because there is so many branches you can take within this field. Whether it’s the Mathematics and Statistics, Machine Learning, Programming, Databases, Data Visualization or even soft skills that initially grabbed your attention to Data Analysis, you can tailor your role within Data to any or a combination of these skills.

How does working in Data make you feel empowered?

Being part of this industry as a young woman is a great feeling, it is rapidly expanding and reaching all areas of day to day life. It is greatly exciting to now think of myself as a fellow ambassador for women in tech. I think data is a vital part of the 21st century and plays a pivotal role in accessing and providing new and varying types of information, which makes it important that the people within these roles are an accurate demographic representation of the people the data effects.

Step Up Up Mentee Program

Tanu Aggarwal | Software Development Engineer, Global Customer Operations in Gurgaon

It was started when one day my manager called me and said he has nominated me for the Step Up Mentee program saying it will give me an opportunity to build up my network and grow in my career and requesting me to submit the Statement of Purpose (SOP).

The idea sounds great as I was already struggling in figuring out what next?

So, I thought why not lets write the SOP and that’s is when I have realised it is so satisfying to revisit the journey you had so far. How have you grown over all of these years and all the more important is who all have been mentoring you, supporting you in your journey already. This made me realize how important a mentoring program could be and has made me more confident in getting selected as one of the mentees.

From the very first day the Step Up Mentee program started helping me in identifying my areas of strengths and weaknesses. All of the selected mentees were asked to take the psychometric test called DISC which was followed by an orientation session where all selected mentees shared their purpose of joining the program.

During this session Tanya Bahuguna and Pallavi Tondon helped not just understand the DISC assessment but also made me figure out the areas which are my strength and those areas which sometimes are my weakness. This was the first time where I was able to talk my heart out by relating to the assessment analysis and sharing how apt the assessment by seeing how have we been conducted myself so far at both professional and personal front.

Orientation session was followed by a session where we all need to come up with the themes which we would like to discuss and talk about throughout the program.

We come with these  themes

  • Building business acumen for strategic foresight and transitioning from tech mindset to a business mindset
  • The art and science of enhancing performance through feedback
  • Enhancing personal brand equity to fuel career ambitions
  • Building meaningful relationships through impactful communication

The best part of this program is being a group mentorship circle it has made me learn from each other experiences. It has always been great listening to the challenges what other mentee is facing and realising that in some way or the other you have faced such challenges too. Thus the techniques which are shared are helpful to others too.

Our first theme-based session started with Eman Barhoumeh, the VP of the Insurance and Assurance Business in Expedia.

She is a great leader, she has various ways to make us not just to speak up and give words to all the challenges we are facing, but also help us understand why possibly we could be in that situation and then trying help and guide us by providing various techniques.

She came up with a framework or a model to associate with each and every problem we raised. That has not only made things so relatable but also made me feel that I am not the only one facing these problems. And, these are known issues and concerns and there are solutions for it already. I just need to understand and apply in my daily routine.

Eman has conducted various working session to made us understand the perspective of other side of the problem too. She made us play the role and understand the point of view of all the parties involved. We have also been asked to apply techniques discussed during the sessions in our daily routine whether office or home. This has brought a significant change in my thought process in facing situation day to day basis.

This program is a wonderful initiative and has not only given us chance to learn how to grow as a better professional but as an individual too. And at the same time it has  also given us the opportunity to interact with different ECP leadership team and discuss with them our growth plan and seek their guidance.A big thank you for conducting this program.

Is this too good to be true?

Ana Maria Jalba | Associate Software Development Engineer, Hotels.com in London

I’ve just passed 300 days at Expedia Group and it feels like it’s been much longer. I no longer feel junior in the company and my confidence has increased dramatically. It’s amazing what a good workplace does! Before I tell you about my experience as a graduate software engineer in Hotels.com (an Expedia Group brand), I will first tell you about my interview experience. That’s because you can’t really have a job without an interview these days and an interview is useful for learning if you are about to join the right company for you.

hi it’s me – Ana Maria

Interview experience

Not gonna lie, this was the best interview experience I’ve ever had. After the last stage, I left the building smiling.

My stages included a HackerRank code challenge, then an interview with a manager, and finally, an on-site interview that included three stages: coding interview face-to-face with two engineers, a group exercise, and a 1:1 interview with a hiring manager. Between the on-site code interview and the group exercise, there was a lunch break. Throughout the day, all interviewers were engaging, and they listened to me in a way that made me feel like what I had to say mattered. However, what I liked the most was that during the lunch break, a few grads and interns joined me and the other candidates. They were really friendly with each other, they joked a lot, and most importantly, they tried to get us to join in. I already felt like I was part of the company.

In case you’re wondering, I did pass the interviews, otherwise, I wouldn’t be here, telling this story.

Once I joined the company, I got to meet my team and my fellow interns and grads. I also got to take a photo with Captain Obvious recently!

yes, the real Captain Obvious you see in the ads!

Team experience

I joined the Big Data Platform (some of my team members are in the picture above).

Never in my life have I been in such a diverse and fun group. It changed over the last year, but it remained full of happy and funny people. There are quite a few times when I cried of laughter because of the conversations in our team Slack channel (a chatroom). They are also very knowledgeable, so when I ask them for help, they have useful suggestions to make. (I’m not just saying nice things because they might read this.)

Perks of being in my team include getting cake(s) when we celebrate things, a flexible schedule, lots of amazing stickers, contributing to open-sourced projects and getting to laugh a lot.

lots of amazing stickers – only a few make it to my laptop

Groups you can be part of

Being in a group not related to your job makes it much easier to get to know other people that you might otherwise never meet, and you get to contribute to causes that matter to you. For example, there are two groups that I absolutely love: the Hotels.com Gender Balance and Code Academy group, which have people from all parts of the company.

Hotels.com Gender Balance group: I strongly believe that not enough girls/young women are interested in STEM subjects. And that affects a lot of things down the line, especially the fact that tech companies lack talented women in tech. It’s still fairly easy to find yourself as the only female engineer in a team (although not in my case) or in a meeting. But I believe that’s because there’s a supply issue, so that’s why I started getting involved in Hotels.com’s Gender Balance Outreach group. It aims to teach more children (and especially girls) how to program, in the hopes that they would find it interesting, or at least make them aware that tech is a career option in the future, no matter who/what they are.

Code Academy is a group that encourages employees to teach other employees. I used to be afraid of teaching. It was this thing that I’ve never done before and I would frequently think that I don’t know enough of anything to teach someone else. Now, I teach, assist another course and encourage others to teach. Also, because this is an Expedia Group initiative, I got to know amazing people outside of Hotels.com!

Another group I am part of is the interns & grad group. As part of the group, I got to go to social events (we even went to Sky Garden), learn about Expedia Group while getting free lunch, and volunteer for a 24h undergraduate hackathon held in our office. I also made good friends that remember vividly what it’s like to have exams. So glad to be done with those now!

The view from Sky Garden

Other good things to mention

There is a group chat with photos of pets*, everyone is friendly and unless they are busy with something important, they are willing to help, you sometimes get free food and/or drinks, and, if you’re in London, a beautiful office with amazing view (which was shared in some other blog posts).

Overall, Expedia Group is an amazing company to work for! I feel extremely lucky to have found out about this company and to get all these opportunities that allow me to enjoy my job. So, although it seems too good to be true, it’s real!

* The following species so far: dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, scorpions, chickens, turtles, sugar gliders, chinese waterdragons, rocks (???), pigs, cockatiels, and geckos

Empathy: the most powerful of Analytics tools

Alexander Jing | Analytics Manager, Product Analytics in Bellevue

My journey with Expedia Group started 4 years ago, when I was hired for a contractor role. Initially, it was just a short-term gig. Yet the more I learn about Expedians and the work we do here, the more I am fascinated by Expedia Group.

Seattle skyline

What motivates me to come to office everyday – perhaps misnomer since I sometimes work from home– is the opportunity and the mission that lies ahead. Firstly, the opportunity is huge. Expedia Group is in a market with tremendous potential; as big as it is today, it still only has a very small market share in the global travel market. What intrigues me even more is the mission. As a travel company, Expedia Group brings all people and places in the world within reach. Travel breaks down barriers, helps people understand each other, and broadens one’s horizon. This understanding is more important than ever in today’s world.

How do I connect the big picture to my everyday job? As inspiring as travel can be, there is still friction to solve for. When we put a traveler’s journey under a microscope, we see many elements that could be smoother. A customer trying to fit a flight to her budget and schedule. A customer needing to book a hotel in a foreign country when they don’t speak the language. A customer traveling to a destination for the first time, unsure of where to look for things to do. These and many more are the customer pain points Expedia is trying to solve, and we at Expedia Group solve them through…analytics!

Seattle sunset

I am analytic manager in the product analytics team. Our mission is to resolve customer pain points, which we do by leveraging the tremendous amount of data we collect every day. I like to imagine myself as a detective: I collect and visualize data points in a meaningful way, and I analyze them, trying to recreate the travel experience behind numbers, and pinpoint anything that may lead to a better experience. Since we don’t see our customers, we rely on modern technology to make sure we capture customer behavior as truthfully as possible. When I look at a number, I see the customer behind it. And it is my job to make sure I understand that customer and I do everything I can to improve their experience with us.

Dressing up for Halloween with the team

So how do I do that? Aside from all the “required skillset” you might see on a random job posting – query, visualization, modeling, scripting – I like to emphasize empathy. Behind every number there is a customer, or a customer’s interaction with our website. Behind every interaction there is a need or a purpose. A flight confirmation number might be somebody’s first trip to a foreign country. An error code on the confirmation page could be the difference between catching the flight or missing it. An increase in bounce rate might indicates customers are not finding the information they need. A low open rate for an e-mail campaign could mean we are not sending useful information to customers.

We are best at our job when we put ourselves in customers’ shoes, and we analytic folks are best at our job when we see the human interaction behind the numbers. This is the critical skillset one need to be successful as an analyst. Most other skills can be learned rather quickly, but empathy requires a completely different mindset! And if you have what it takes to be a customer champion? Expedia welcomes you!

Expedia Group is important to me not just professionally, but also personally. My daughter was born 2.5 years ago. Life with a young kid is hectic and unpredictable and requires tremendous energy. Life with a young kid and a full-time job? Oh my, you have no idea! Fortunately for me, I have colleagues that are supportive and understanding. Flexibility of working hours and location is common in Expedia Group, and one does not need to hesitate to take a day or two off for familial obligation. I’ve been able to watch my kid grow, read books to her, teach her to talk, whilst maintaining productivity in my role.

Expedia Group is truly a special place to be! Every day I am learning, meeting smart and devoted people, solving puzzles, and bringing the world closer! If you are like me, and enjoy fast-paced, customer-centric, and mission-driven work, I’m sure Expedia Group will not disappoint!

My First 90 days at Expedia Group

Eleanor Evans | Reporting & Analytics Manager in London

Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you’ve been with Expedia Group?

I joined Hotels.com on 7th January; less than 3 months ago, having previously been an analytics manager at a big UK retailer

I first heard of Expedia Group from a Woman in Data UK conference. I knew that Expedia Group had good gender balance and were top of the analytics game, and wasn’t feeling as stretched on the technical side of things in my current role. I was doing a lot of people management but wanted to focus more on my technical skills. A recruiter approached me about a role, and it went from there…

What role are you doing now?

My role at Expedia Group is that of analytics manager, working on channel optimisation for Hotels.com. Questions I might answer day to day would be: how can we build models to help predict when people will cancel hotel bookings? How can we adapt our prediction models for seasonality? Can they scale to countries all around the world? I also work on Expedia Group wide initiatives to coordinate across brands; it’s great to break down silos and not see other brands as competition.

What was the interview process like?

I really liked that there was a phone interview first with the hiring manager, and then a case study with real data. There was an excel sheet which I had to analyse, turn into insight and present back to interviewers. It was a realistic insight into what the job would be like and an interesting example.

I also liked that one of the interviewers was not in Analytics, but a stakeholder. This meant that on my first day I already had a foot in the door with some stakeholders, which gave me the confidence to go ahead and book in meetings with the rest.

How has Expedia Group compared to your expectations?

Originally, I was a bit worried that some of the things said at interview were just “buzzwords”; I was told that everybody was using python, R, databricks, AWS. However, I soon found out this genuinely was the case – everybody uses these tools on a daily basis and is heavily encouraged to do so. Expedia Group sets aside a lot of time and money for training to improve on skills.

I was also impressed by how global the Expedia Group offices are; I feel part of a virtual team, and so integrated with the global business, that I can benefit from the insight of Expedians anywhere in the world.

The culture is also very nice; working at Expedia Group is very flexible, and people are open-minded. Expedia Group also shows it cares with a range of benefits; from the wellness allowance, travel allowance, free monthly breakfasts in London, and numerous socials.

What differentiates Expedia Group in the analytics world?

The infrastructure is really solid. When I did my PHD, I was used to booking in time on a server; in contrast it’s great having all the resources on tap.

For example, if you want to run Rstudio, you’re connected to servers running it. There are 20 clusters, and everybody has access to them. You never need to worry about computing power; and the same goes for Python.

If you have any problems then there would be investment in resources to handle that, whereas in my last role the company didn’t take data infrastructure seriously enough to keep on top of the latest trends.

Expedia Group is big on its “test and learn” culture, and this openness to trying new things carries over into everything. Whether it comes to running a test with huge potential business impact, or suggesting a new meeting format, people are willing to give new things a go. A lot of companies say they do this, but Expedia Group really has the culture to let that happen.

It’s also important to know that Expedia Group is a global company, and we work across multiple different timezones. This means knowing that, if you want a team in Dallas to productionize something, your team in London needs to finish the models on our side in the morning before they come online. This also might mean being a bit more flexible to get a call in the diary that works for all your stakeholders – be it in the morning for Asia or the evening for America. We really appreciate that different teams have flexibility around timezones and we try to show that respect towards each other. 

What are you doing when not at work?

In my free time, I’m pretty sporty; playing squash with a local club and going running with my partner. I also like hiking and travelling; especially when going back to see my family in Scotland.

I’ve also booked my first trip with the Expedia Group employee perks; in Croatia to do hiking and kayaking. My partner’s favourite thing in the world is visiting waterfalls, so that’s the plan for Easter weekend!

What advice would you give to a candidate for analytics at Expedia Group?

Be yourself. Don’t be intimidated by technical side of things. Approach challenges with curiosity and enthusiasm. Everybody interviewing you wants you to succeed, and we look forward to meeting people with right mindset to respond to a challenge, learn quickly and get stuff done.

I was recommended for this job through a recruiter, and when I looked at the job I thought “I don’t have this experience. I don’t use R and Python regularly and have only done online courses.” Once within the process, the interviewers explained that those skills were not mandatory, as long as I was willing to learn and give it a go. At Expedia Group, you just have to be willing to get up to speed quickly – I am really grateful to my manager for having that faith in me!