Customer Centricity – Delivering a two sided lodging platform through Market Management

Allyvia Oberman | Market Manager, Expedia Group in Brisbane, Australia

In my 6 years at Expedia Group, I’ve talked a lot.

Each day is an exciting and new conversation with my team, the office, and our hotel partners. I’ve spoken in meetings, on the phone, and even in front of 500+ crowds. I’ve delivered strategies, solved problems, and learnt many new skills – all through talking.

What the biggest and most important skill I’ve learned throughout this time, however, may surprise you.

While presentation training was important, effective data analysis has helped me deliver outcomes and time management skills allow me to best support my hotel partners – nothing could be more valuable than understanding how to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and the hotel.

Understanding the needs of our guests seemed simple at first – after all, they would book whatever was on our website, right? They needed to be in the city and our websites are where they would come to find their room.

Convinced, I continued to only talk strategically with my hotel partners on how their business could have the best experience on our websites, how their revenue could increase if they tried XYZ strategy, and how they could become the hotel our customers wanted to book. It was simple!

Later into my Market Management journey, I was introduced to Customer Centricity and in particular – Expedia Group’s two-sided lodging platform which was created to service lodging partners and customers. We’re the platform that brings the two together, with teams working around the globe to understand and optimize both of their journeys. Then it clicked:

My conversations, my presentations, my phone calls – all this talking – to only service and understand one half of our business. Not only was I not delivering customers with the best shopping experience – I wasn’t helping my hotel partners reach their full potential.

I immediately took action to change my approach to account management. It was my role as the Market Manager to advocate for the customer to our hotel partners and within my own team. Just because account managers aren’t talking directly to the customers, it doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the strategies, solutions, and results that benefit them.

By putting the customer as the core focus in our conversations, the outcome can be drastically different. For example, featuring a hotel deal in a sale campaign seems simple – but what is the hotel doing to provide further value for our Members? Our loyal customers are twice more likely to return to their hotel. So, without considering this customer profile and their needs – not only will our Member not receive an incentive for their loyalty – but the hotel will also miss the potential to earn a repeat customer. Consistently striving for a better customer experience is imperative to not only our company – but the lodging partners too.

Expedia Group is continuing to lead change and revolutionize account management. Today, I proudly talk about this successful approach with my hotel partners and continue to advocate for much more than just a revenue gaining result and rather for a customer-centric win.

Relentlessly strive for BETTER every day

Stephanie Cady | Operations Manager II, Expedia Group in Bellevue, WA

I joined Expedia Group (EG) two and a half years ago and one of the Guiding Principles I live by is Relentlessly Striving for Better. I am reminded every day on how Expedia Group focuses on soliciting employee perspectives at all levels of the organization.

At Expedia Group, we enjoy challenging the status quo and leaning into our diverse strengths across disciplines to relentlessly strive for BETTER every day. With a strong commitment to gender balance at the highest levels, our leadership culture models our guiding principles – enabling new and better initiatives to gain traction as we evolve as a whole.

This approach has allowed me to freely develop people-centric programs fostering such changes as the deconstruction of historical silos, as well as, a people-centric communications strategy. This strategy reinvigorated our employee’s interest in developing their future career paths within EG. In addition, I was fully empowered to put in place a reward and recognition program for our B2B organization based on our peoples and the business’s changing needs. All of this was possible by challenging myself and pushing myself to be better every day.

It’s inspiring to be a leader at EG where you can learn, challenge, and improve what and how we contribute with urgency.

Join us and you too can be part of relentlessly building BETTER!

 

You Can’t Spell ‘Wander’ Without AR

DJ Harman | App Engagement Lead, Expedia Group in Dallas, Texas

Have you ever wanted to travel with a celebrity? How about seeing snowfall on the beach? Build a sandcastle indoors? Add Wander Wisely™ branded frames to your photos?

(It was that last one that sold you, wasn’t it?)

Well, you can do all that and more with the Travelocity app! We’re very excited to announce the release of Expedia Group’s first augmented reality (AR) experience featuring the wisest wanderer of them all, The Roaming Gnome™!

Below is a preview but you should really download/open the Travelocity app (featured live on both Android and iOS) to have the full experience for yourself.

WARNING: more fun/addicting than you might expect…

This seems cool and all, but why Augmented Reality?

AR is an emerging technology that Apple’s Tim Cook calls “potentially as important as the iPhone.” It’s expected to have over 1 billion users by next year – and already, 60% to 70% of consumers see clear benefits in using AR in their daily life and at work. It’s a greenfield of opportunity endemic to both mobile and travel.

What better home for it than our apps, and what better way to smoke test our customers’ interest than by bringing our beloved Roaming Gnome to life with it? If this proof of concept yields high engagement, then it justifies further investment and development of more utilitarian AR features for Expedia Group apps.

As Krista McDougal (GM, Travelocity) puts it, experimenting with AR is “a way to engage and inspire travelers beyond our points of sale. The Travelocity AR camera allows our customers to have fun with the brand throughout their travel journey, and we look forward to seeing how travelers engage with the experience and share it with friends and family.”

From Geysers to Charades on $30

Emil Riccardi | Senior Director for Technology, LPS in Bellevue, WA

“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.” Frank Burman, American Astronaut

I grew up on an island.  Living on an island sounds romantic, and it certainly can be, especially when you’re watching a rainbow sherbet sunset melt into a tranquil blue sea.  But it can also be congested with people and traffic.  It can be difficult to get on and off an island.  All that closeness fosters community but it can also foster a sense that everyone knows your business.

Maybe because of the need to escape the closeness on the island, I have a need to travel. Or maybe it’s because I’m the grandchild of immigrants who took the leap in the early 20th century to move from Italy and raise 10 kids in NYC. I do know that the desire to travel took root in the back of a Pontiac Bonneville station wagon; facing rearward not knowing where you were going and only seeing where you’ve been. What an adventure!

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” Paul Theroux

For whatever reason, I love to travel.  So much so, that I lead an engineering organization at Expedia Group, where I get to help travelers go where they want to go and have amazing experiences around the world. My life centers around travel and travelers and, yet, it can be difficult to take a vacation.

If it were just me, travel would be a bit easier.  But I have two daughters in their teens, not to mention my lovely wife.  As you can imagine, it can be challenging to wrangle them to leave the proximity of their friends or agree on a location for a trip.  I’m also “thrifty,” so it’s hard to consider spending thousands of dollars on a trip that my family isn’t super excited to take.

One day, when I was at my local Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new driver’s license, the lady behind the counter asked me if I wanted an all-access pass to every Washington State Park.  The Discover Pass, as it’s called, would enable me and my entire family to explore our state for $30 a year.  I signed up.

Travel is an opportunity to experience different cultures, different personalities, food, and environs.  It makes the world smaller, and us more empathetic.  I believe that if more people were to travel to places outside their comfort zone, the world would be a better place.  I grow when I travel, so I was excited to tour around the state with my family.  Did I say it was only $30?

I set out to get the most out of the Discover Pass.  We started by taking day trips – first in King County, then Pierce, then Snohomish.  One of our first adventures was to visit the Auburn Flaming Geiser State Park.  The park is named for a flame which burned through a concrete basin, fueled by methane gas pocket 1,000 feet below the surface, which just keeps burning.  We had no idea such a thing existed in Washington – which got us interested in more adventures.

Everyone loved it, so we graduated to camping.  We visited Cape Disappointment and Waikiki Beach, where Lewis + Clark ended their journey on the southern-most tip of the state.  We enjoyed the beauty and history of the area with its lighthouses, old forts, windswept cliffs and sea smells that co-exist at the point where the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean meet.

I noticed that, as we traveled around the state, we got back to our roots as a family.  We were talking to each other rather than ogling our devices.  We slowed down. We played charades next to the campfire as we cooked smores.  We poured over the Washington state map to figure out our next adventure as we enjoyed the current one. We got closer as we got further away from home.

There are so many ways to experience the world without spending a ton of money or time.  Exploring your backyard, your town or your state is a great place to start.

Meet the HomeAway UX Research Team

After learning more about what our UX Research Team does, you may start to think their jobs resemble that of undercover spies. Between the two-way mirrors, eye tracking glasses, and emotion recognition software, it’s safe to say they get to work with some pretty cool technology. This group plays a crucial part in product development because they are constantly testing, reporting, and providing recommendations on the latest updates and additions to the HomeAway website and native apps.

Here’s a closer look at what they do and what it takes to be successful researchers in their words:

The team hanging out in their comfy observation room.
The team hanging out in their comfy observation room.

Q: Let’s start with the basics, what does the product release and research process look like?

“We start the research process by meeting with the design and product teams to gather feedback from key stakeholders on the specific goals of the study. Then, we prepare a brief to outline the objectives, the method of the study, and the profile of the participants. Once the brief is completed, other researchers typically review it.

Throughout the process, we hold several meetings with the project stakeholders to keep them informed and complete updates on the different deliverables needed such as the status of new study prototypes, the study guide, and recruitment of the participants. Once the sessions have been conducted, we spend time analyzing the data, then we write a report to present the findings and recommendations back to the project stakeholders.” – Sara, User Experience Insights Senior Manager

Q: What problems is your team solving?

“We do research to understand our users and optimize their experience on the HomeAway website and app.” – Aniko, Sr. UX Researcher

“One of my favorite (very Texas) quotes about the difference between UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience – the research we do) and how our work impacts users: “UI is the saddle, the stirrups, and the reins. UX is the feeling you get being able to ride the horse and rope your cattle.” – Tim, UX Researcher

Part of the team at the 2017 holiday party in Austin. (Left to right: Karl, Aniko, Drew, Jenn, Stephanie, Tim)
Part of the team at the 2017 holiday party in Austin. (Left to right: Karl, Aniko, Drew, Jenn, Stephanie, Tim)

Q: That’s a great visual! What’s an interesting project you’ve worked on lately?

“I recently worked on a UX test for the Reservation Manager tools used by our partners in four different countries. It’s been very insightful because the test revealed some UI opportunities across markets and helped us to prioritize the right enhancements to the product and design teams.” – Sara, User Experience Insights Senior Manager

“I tested HomeAway television ads using methods from cognitive neuroscience to understand what engages our travelers. We used eye tracking, facial expression recognition software, surveys, and interviews to learn what makes travelers experience those heartwarming feelings you get when you’re on vacation. It’s been really fun working together with UX Research, UX Content, and the Marketing teams to apply the scientific mindset and help HomeAway’s content shine.” – Drew, UX Researcher

“I think the Northstar (new design) concepts are probably the most fun because they are progressive and it’s fun to work on the next big thing. I’m excited to contribute to the development of our latest designs by collecting traveler feedback on prototypes in our Austin lab space.” – Lukas, Sr. UX Researcher

“Working with our team and other stakeholders to make sure we’re doing the most impactful research, and planning for our next-generation labs.” – Karl, Director of User Experience Research

Aniko preparing a participant.
Aniko preparing a participant.

Q: What does it take to be successful on your team?

“Good communication, be personable and understand when to speak and when to listen.” – Tim, UX Researcher

“Great people skills and attention to detail.” – Stephanie, UX Research Producer

“The curiosity to want to understand ‘why,’ the discipline to employ the right scientific approach to uncover answers, and the passion to see the answers get turned into positive changes to the product.” – Karl, Director of User Experience Research

Q: What’s something you’ve learned since joining this team?

“How expansive the research is at HomeAway and how wonderful it is to have buy-in from so many different teams regarding our research.” – Tim, UX Researcher

“Using the emotion recognition software and survey tools” – Aniko, Sr. UX Researcher

Prioritizing one project over another can be tough because we want to answer ALL the research questions we can. We’re problem solvers and answer seekers.” – Lukas, Sr. UX Researcher

A HomeAway employee trying out the emotion recognition software and eye tracking glasses.

A HomeAway employee trying out the emotion recognition software and eye tracking glasses.
A HomeAway employee trying out the emotion recognition software and eye tracking glasses.

Q: Any funny stories you can share from past studies?

“Funny stories? You have to sign a nondisclosure agreement first!” 😉 – Jenn, UX Researcher

Q: Ah we get it, you can’t tell us because of privacy rules. Do you have a favorite program or tool?

“Python, specifically the Pandas, NumPy and SciPy libraries” – Drew, UX Researcher

“Eye tracking and the two-way mirror in the London Innovation Lab. I also enjoy using our emotion recognition software.” – Sara, User Experience Insights Senior Manager

“I’m really interested in all of our lab equipment like PTZ cameras, rack-mounted recording and streaming, and figuring out how we can incorporate future technologies into our testing.”  – Tim, UX Researcher

Q: Last question, do you celebrate a little after you wrap up a test or move on to the next project?

We do celebrate sometimes after we successfully complete a user study or after our recommendations are well received. – Aniko, Sr. UX Researcher

“I get a little adrenaline rush when the last participant completes the session. Then it’s time to debrief with any observers and start thinking about what all those observations mean when taken together. – Lukas, Sr. UX Researcher

The moderator workstation, aka: what it looks like to be on the other side!
The moderator workstation, aka: what it looks like to be on the other side!

Want to join Team HomeAway or check out other cool perks we offer? Visit our careers page!

Follow Life at HomeAway on social media

Employee Engagement & The Smiths: What Difference Does it Make?

Todd Johnson | Program Manager II, Expedia Group in Seattle, WA

“I was looking for a job, and then I found a job, and heaven knows I’m miserable now.” -Morrissey, lead singer of The Smiths, Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

 

[ Note: If you’d like musical accompaniment while reading this post, recommended Smiths’ songs have been provided for each section.]

We’ve probably all had jobs like Morrissey. Jobs that made us miserable, cranky, and unlovable—susceptible to the melancholy songs of the Smiths.

But sometimes you get lucky and land the other kind of job: the type that inspires you to give your best effort, to collaborate with panache, and to deliver value to your customer. These types of jobs typically don’t happen in a vacuum. The job is engaging in some part because of the work environment and the culture that each employee helps create and cultivate.

As part of an Employee Engagement Team at Expedia Group, we think about these topics (culture, environment, engagement) all the time. We ask questions daily, like:

  • What makes Expedia Group a desirable place to come and do our best, most passionate work?
  • How do we ensure our customers are satisfied no, ecstatic about “the product”?
  • And, who is our “internal customer” anyway?

The answer, of course, is that it is the people who make the workplace, the people who create the product, and the people are the customer. It’s really all about the people. Or it should be!

When your customer is your co-worker.

[Read to the tune: Is It Really So Strange?]

For my team, the idea of an internal customer can get pretty meta.  We focus on those focusing on the external customer (i.e. our travelers and travel partners). In Employee Engagement, we serve our customer by proxy, by helping to catalyze* the job culture through various programs, communications, trainings, and offerings.

This means we take on a variety of roles:

  • We are administrators: planning large- and smaller scale team meetings, sending out the invites to meetups, bringing speakers into our offices, and hosting brown bags.
  • We are researchers & scientists: creating and evaluating surveys, implementing practices based on a growth mindset and behavioral studies, and letting data drive our decisions about the workplace.
  • We are networkers and leadership gurus: kicking off mentorship and technical programs, offering internal training opportunities, and innovation building activities like hackathons.
  • We are celebrators of differences: conducting allyship workshops, diversity and inclusion practices, and listening tours; making our programs scalable, social, and extensible around the globe.

We refer to these activities as engagement. It is rewarding work that also has its challenges. Like many programs focused on internal customers, our product often falls victim to its own intangibility. Our metrics can be squishy and subject to debate, and our product (i.e. the many programs we offer) is often only noticed when something appears to be lacking or malfunctioning, in the same way that the squeaky wheel gets all the proverbial grease.

But in a large corporation, not devoting time and energy to engagement can be even more costly because environmental neglect leads to job dissatisfaction, poor team performance, and employee attrition and detractors.

So why do we care so much about engagement?

[Read to the tune: These Things Take Time]

Since we spend such a good chunk of our lives at the office, it just makes sense that we would want to come work at a place that was engaging, inviting, inspiring, and supportive of both our career and life goals. A place with great culture, vibe, and people; and (of course) with incentives that encourage us to actually leave the office and travel the globe like our customers.

Learning from the insightful research Google did on work culture and effective teams, we know that having the most highly-skilled specialists populating teams has some importance, but matters much less than having specific qualities and traits in a team. The crucial traits they defined were:

  • Psychological safety
  • Dependability
  • Structure/clarity
  • Meaning
  • Impact

Digging a little deeper into these traits, it’s not hard to see how the culture (an engaged culture) is foundational to health; it’s what makes good teams possible.  (It’s also no coincidence that Google invested time/energy/resources into this extensive research because of their understanding of the importance of engagement in corporate settings).

Engagement, then, is more than a backdrop to business-as-usual; it’s more than just a set of inter- or intra-personal skills (please don’t call them soft!); it’s more than “optional-tasks-not-related-to-my-real-job”.

In some ways remaining highly engaged in the corporate environment is the hardest “work” each Expedian aspires to each day. But it’s also the work that sets great tech companies and professionals apart.

It can be challenging to perfect the art/science of engagement. We’ve built business objectives and measurements around our engagement goals, and we’ve asked our employees to ask some simple consumer questions about internal products.

Asking consumer quality questions about your work life

[Read to the tune: Ask, or Shoplifters of the World: Unite & Takeover]

When we think about engagement and the products we “consume” at work, we can recycle simple consumer questions we pose unconsciously all the time and make them work-relevant

Does the new smartphone have the features I use most?
BECOMES
Is this corporate email or blog post at all helpful?

Will attending this college help me / my children have a better chance at a good career?”
BECOMES
Did this online training give me skills to improve a customer’s travel experience?

Should I invest ten hours into the next season of < Insert favorite Netflix or TV show here>?
BECOMES
Should I invest ten hours to coach a fellow employee to receive dividends in career growth and greater connection?

Do these clothes make me look dashing?
BECOMES
Do I like the person I am becoming at work?

Is Disneyland really the happiest place on earth?
BECOMES
Am I helping to make Expedia Group the best place on earth for technologists to work?

I know these questions sound perhaps overly simplistic, and perhaps naive. Work is work, after all, no matter how meta you get about it, but at our core, we all know what a “good” work environment looks like and why it inspires us. At Expedia Group, we have healthy debates and may disagree about the nuances and preferences for our culture, but we know what is engaging to us and we know what isn’t.

We even have a mantra that reflects one of our core practices of improvement. You can find visual reminders, couch pillows throughout the office that contain the keywords of this principle: “Better.” “Every.” “Day.”

We encourage those in our teams to ask the consumer questions above while keeping this mantra in mind. Whenever the answer is “no,” there is a built-in opportunity to innovate, to grow, and to offer some change to the current culture/programs. But that requires that we be engaged enough to suggest, to offer, and to emulate the changes we’d like to see happen.

It really helps to have an Employee Engagement team that can help catalyze those changes to culture, because, in the words of the writer, Chuck Palahniuk, the real job is to, “Find joy in everything you choose to do. Every job, relationship, home…it’s your responsibility to love it, or change it.”

And when it comes to changing your workplace for greater job satisfaction, we can all agree with this charming man** who said, “Please, please, please, let me, let me, let me / Let me get what I want this time…”


* I like the word catalyze because it means to cause or accelerate a reaction usually one that is chemical in nature, without necessarily changing the fundamental materials or sequencing of the reaction. A catalyst kick-starts a process, speeds it up, or keeps it going through to an outcome.

** Morrissey again, duh.   

5 tips to owning your career

Jennifer Dixon | Content Analyst, Expedia Group in Bellevue, WA

When it comes to your career, you can’t stand by and expect results. You dictate what you want out of your career and you are responsible for your own success. No one else can do it for you.

I’ve been working at Expedia Group for four years now. During my time here, I’ve had the opportunity to work on several projects that have forced me to continually seek new ideas and different ways of thinking. I am continuously pushing myself to be better and I’m always looking for my next challenge.

How do I do it? One of the Expedia Group Guiding Principles I live by is to “Relentlessly Strive for Better” which gives me the energy and encouragement I need to challenge myself every day. I am always thinking of ways to better myself – and you should too.

Here are my tips for career development and how I relentlessly strive to do better.

1. Know your legacy

Your legacy should exemplify the kind of impact you want to make on others. For me, I have a true passion for helping others and I love presenting people with new possibilities and new ways of doing things. My legacy is to make a meaningful and positive impact on people by removing obstacles, providing creative solutions, and improving experiences.

So, what are you passionate about and what do you value most? Combine these with your strengths and you’ll be able to define your legacy. Your legacy should dictate the work you do and why you do it. Knowing your legacy will help you to stay centered and keep you honest.

2. Create obtainable goals

Once you know your legacy, it’s time to start setting measurable goals for yourself. Start by setting smaller, obtainable goals that motivate you and inspire you to do better. Consider what you want to achieve or what’s important to you.

Now write them down. Seeing your goals written out makes them more tangible and also helps to keep you accountable.

3. Find a mentor

At any given time, I always try to have at least one mentor or coach who challenges me to think differently.

Find someone who will push you to be better. Someone who will challenge you on your ideas and keep you honest. Of course, you can do this on your own – but having someone there to push you will only speed up your learning and your growth.

4. Be vulnerable

I ask a lot of questions and I have no problem admitting when I’m wrong. I have learned to embrace failure and I have learned from my mistakes.

This is probably one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to do but it has the potential of making you so much stronger. It will also make you more relatable and people will respect you more for it.

5. Keep learning

To be successful, you have to grow. Whether it’s through reading a thought-provoking book, listening to a PodCast or Ted Talk, or going to a conference. These experiences will revitalize you and motivate you to try new things and to do better. It can also help you to completely reset and ensure you are still on the path to achieve your goals.

When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.

I am sure there are plenty of other things you can do to push yourself to be better but these will (at the very least) get you started. I learned far too late in my career that I am the only one responsible for my success and my career development – so for you, I hope these tips will help you to take charge of your career now. At least that’s my goal. 🙂

Your career development is completely up to you. So, what are you waiting for?

How Expedia Group teams help travelers deal with natural disasters (and more)

This September, Hurricane Florence hit the east coast of the US with wind speeds of 85 miles per hour (137 km/h). It went on to cause widespread flooding, large-scale power outages, and evacuations of entire neighborhoods.

It not only wreaked havoc on the coast – it also created turmoil for our customers in the region, and made many more rethink their planned trips.

Something’s happening, always

With hurricane coverage top of the news and thousands of people ready to call about changing their travel plans, our global command center team was at full alert, ready to help our customers — and our agents — make the best of a bad situation.

Split between Bellevue, Prague and Gurgaon, the team monitors large-scale events that could impact our customers around the clock.

As Florence grew and drew more news coverage, the team was already monitoring the developing storm for a while, along with a damaged airport bridge in Osaka, Japan, several other developing storms in the Atlantic and Pacific, and Typhoon Mangkut.

Keeping agents and customers in the loop

The first order of business is to create impact reports, because not every disaster that’s big in the news is big for Expedia Group. “It always depends on the area and how many customers we have there or going there,” said Geneva McMahon, director of the global command center. “Last year, Hurricane Harvey was big but low impact for us. Irma on the other hand almost brought us down to our knees.”

With the impact assessed, it’s time to figure out how our brands and suppliers want to handle the situation and get information to our agents as quickly as possible. Typically, our brands talk to market managers in the affected areas and then issue “flex policies” that allow customers to rebook their travel or cancel at no cost. Airlines are often the fastest to react — they really know what the weather is doing.

Getting our agents up-to-date is key for keeping call queues short. At the same time, the team is trying to communicate directly with our customers via email, text alerts, and warning notices on our websites.

It’s a team effort

Monitoring a potential crisis and getting information out quickly is an important step, but only one in a series of actions we need to take to make a bad — or potentially bad — travel experience less painful for our customers.

During Hurricane Florence, initial coverage mainly showed long lines of cars leaving North Carolina’s Outer Banks due to mandatory evacuation orders. Quite a few people in those cars were customers that had to leave their hotel and find another place to stay.

That’s a job for our relocation team in London. This team will help customers directly affected by a crisis event find alternative accommodations.

On queue: managing call center wait times

As Hurricane Florence approached the coast, the crisis team got to work collecting policies, informing agents and sending out alerts.

At the same time, several monitors in our command center took on a slightly ominous reddish hue. They provide a detailed look at what’s happening in our call centers, from how many people are waiting in queue, to how many called but hung up before getting to an agent (the abandon percentage), up to how many agents are on breaks or in team meetings.

This is the domain of the real-time team which monitors the performance of our call centers and takes action if customers have to wait too long. “We declare what’s the impact on the business because of this event,” said Houston Chatham, manager of the real-time team. “We look at the last six 30-minute intervals and see how the performance for the service group or brand is trending. If it hits a certain level, we declare a severity code and put some pre-defined actions in place.”

How did we do?

Hurricane Florence got a lot of media attention but turned out to be “only” moderate impact for our business.

Thanks to all the actions taken both in- and outside of Global Customer Operations (GCO), we highly reduced the hurricane’s impact on our customers. The Travelocity Brand and Orbitz Brand were most affected but fared much better due to the proactive mitigation management.

Houston Chatham takes a look at the screen showing call center wait times as Hurricane Florence approaches.
Houston, we got a problem! Houston Chatham, manager of the Real Time team takes a look at the screen showing call center wait times as Hurricane Florence approaches.

After an event is always before an event. Currently, the team is tracking seven new active events across the world and is taking a hard look at the response to Florence. At the same time, we are actively working on automating certain customer pain points like flight cancel and rebook.

Ultimately, one can imagine an AI-powered future in which we can automatically contact, reroute or rebook customers affected by a crisis event.

But that’s still a way off. Until then, it’s good to know we are ready when disaster strikes.

 

Career Check-in with Laura Gonzalez Lopez

Laura Gonzalez Lopez | Sr. Market Manager in Dublin, Ireland

Picture of Laura Gonzalez LopezWhat does your typical workday look like?

My role is to work in partnership with hotel chains and help them optimise their distribution through our channels with products that best suit their needs. Once I’ve checked in with my team to oversee their progress, I then get in touch with my clients. This will involve looking at any reactive email requests, setting up meetings in the diary, and discussing how their business is doing, what’s new and looking at the reports to understand market trends, performance, etc. I love the combination of analytical reporting and partner-facing time!

What have you enjoyed most about working at Expedia Group?

Every year in my tenure with Expedia Group has been different. I have looked after different clients and or markets, been part of different projects, and collaborated with several teams driving business initiatives. This has allowed me to grow and expand my horizons.

What makes your team unique?

We have really strong communication lines. Not only within our team (half the team is based in London and the other half is in Dublin) but also with our internal stakeholders. At any given point, I know what we’re working on and what the teams we depend on are up to. Strong internal relationships are essential for our success as a team.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

I have been lucky to be part of the talent acquisition for different teams within Expedia Group. I really enjoy recruiting the right candidates for the role/team and seeing them grow in their roles and progressing in their careers

Who has influenced you the most?

My mother has taught me a strong sense of responsibility and work ethic. I have the utmost admiration for women that thrive in their career and have a balanced family life at home. Being a working mom isn’t easy. If you think you can have it all, don’t. Think what’s most important and make choices that support that.

How and where do you find inspiration?

We all lead busy lives. I find it very grounding to take the time during the week to appreciate the things around me. I try to look out for new things, people with different views and challenging situations, to see what I can apply for.

How did you learn to embrace failure?

I have learned to make decisions based on enough solid information to ground my logic. If the decision isn’t the right one, I like to always go back and see what went wrong. Failure is part of success as long as you learn from it.

What is your favorite piece of career advice?

Lean on your strengths and keep developing your softer (weaker) areas.

Tell us about your favorite vacation?

South Africa. I went a few years ago with my husband for a couple of weeks and I left in awe of the country. To me, it was the whole package: good weather, beautiful scenery, good people, excellent food & wine, and I had access to the ocean! I truly recommend it to anyone, whether you want a chill or an active holiday.

What is your favorite weekend getaway?

Any European city within a short flight. Good company, plenty of sightseeing, and good food. Wine also helps 😉

Why I love working for Expedia Group

Antoinette Moliterno | Market Associate in Sydney, Australia

Picture of Antoinette Moliterno and co-workerWhen I stepped through Expedia Group Sydney’s doors as a University Intern in November 2017, I only knew that I wanted to work in Tourism, but had little idea of where or how I could fit into this enormous and booming industry. It didn’t take long to realize that Expedia Group was the only place I wanted to be to launch my career, and I haven’t looked back since.

Fast-forward a year – I’ve transitioned from Intern to Market Associate, settled into a new team, and spent the last six months dedicated to the Acquisition of Accommodation Supply and new Partnerships for our global marketplace. In that time, I’ve assisted in nearly one thousand properties going live – from luxury to boutique themed hotels, eco-lodges, retreats, glamping, and a wide variety of vacation rentals!

Each day, while not without its challenges, is rewarding and personally fulfilling both in the nature of what Expedia Group achieves as the world’s travel platform, and the high energy that drives our internal operations. I go to work feeling incredibly lucky and proud to be an Expedia Group employee, and here are just some of my top reasons why…

1 ) The Expedia Group Culture – Expedia Cares

The culture at Expedia Group far surpasses any organisation I have previously been a part of.

Our leadership is committed to creating an environment that is positive, open, supportive, nurturing and also incredibly fun! From day one, I could sense a genuine family spirit and this has only continued to strengthen since. Our recently launched Guiding Principles not only perfectly captures the essence of who I felt we already were as a company but drives us onwards to always be the best versions of ourselves as individuals and a Group.

The company also demonstrates a true care for the well-being and work-life balance of its employees, both within and outside the workplace. We are given plenty of opportunities to pursue our interests and passions, whether that be in our own time (e.g. Travel!) or through our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, Sustainability Committee, or Social Committee.

It’s an amazing feeling to be able to go to work and be surrounded by so many like-minded people who thrive off each other and work together locally and globally towards one common purpose.

2 ) Change & Innovation

In my short time at the company, I’ve seen so much change – its one of the many thrills about being at the crossroads of the Travel and Technology industries. Our workplace is dynamic, stimulating and inspiring as we both ride the waves of change, and also invited to be the change.

I love knowing that there is always something new around the corner, something to learn, to innovate, to make the world of travel even greater – it never gets boring!

In our own corner of the business, I really believe in our ability to help our local lodging partners put their mark on the map and keep up with the growing online game. I’m proud to be apart of a team where innovative ideas are born at a grassroots level and allowed to develop and be shared on a much larger regional or even global level.

3 ) Learn, Grow, Succeed

With no prior industry experience, my first year at Expedia Group has been a huge learning and personal growth journey. The internship in particular was a leap outside my comfort zone, and I was challenged to develop skills from weaknesses, think critically, and ultimately path the way for a career ahead. From the outset, I’ve been empowered to take ownership of my roles and progression, given great freedom to own my projects with individual flair, and the opportunity to evaluate and redesign processes and tools for wider business purposes.

With this comes tremendous support from peers and managers who never hesitate to provide guidance, share in both successes and challenges, and assist in reaching our goals and ambitions.

While I’m only at the very beginning of what I hope is a long career in Travel, I really believe in a future at Expedia Group. There are seemingly endless opportunities out there in completely different business divisions, in locations all over the world. Right now, I love what I do, but I’m definitely excited to discover what possibilities lie ahead.

Antoinette Moliterno and team