Expedia.ca launches rewards program

Expedia+ lands north of the border, offering the kind of travel rewards a survey says Canadians are looking for.
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Canadian travellers have a new way to save for vacations as Expedia.ca launches its Expedia+ rewards program here this week.

Expedia+ allows users to “triple-dip” with other loyalty programs. For example, a traveller signed up for Expedia+ could book a trip to fly on a preferred airline and pay using a credit card with travel rewards.

A survey of 1,000 Canadians that have travelled within the past year or have a trip booked in the near future was commissioned by Expedia and conducted by Northstar Research Partners in December. Even though 69% of those surveyed are already part of a travel rewards program, 68% said they would still like to be part of another. Seventy-one percent said rewards programs make saving for leisure travelling easier, with 40% saying they wouldn’t be able to do so without one. Sean Shannon, managing director of Expedia Canada, says the survey results are more of a validation for the way the program has been set up, as opposed to being a motivation for launching it.

“[The survey] reinforced if you’re going to come into a program, it better be added value or else it’s going to be a trade-off, which is a tough proposition to the consumer,” Shannon says. “Often when you look at loyalty programs, it tends to be a choice, so we set this up to be on top of other programs, not instead of.”

Other elements of the program that Shannon believes will resonate with Canadians include its ease of use and a tiering system that offers more rewards for frequent users. Moving up those tiers might not be too hard to achieve – the survey said 88% of those who travelled last year took an average of three vacations.

In terms of demographics, women are slightly more likely than men to book trips using rewards points (63% versus 56%). Rewards are also most popular with millennials, with 73% of them saying it makes it easier to travel. These are two demographics Shannon says Expedia has always been strong in, and this program is meant to continue offering them what they look for

“You can never say the value proposition you gave 15 years ago is still enough today, so we have to continue to find ways to earn the customers coming back to us,” he says. “We have to keep improving that proposition, whether that’s through the inventory we offer or the ease of use or making it work on mobile. Loyalty is just the next thing we’ve found that falls under that.”

Shannon says Expedia hopes a program like this will offer an extra incentive and change the minds of travellers that have checked in with the site in the past but ended up booking elsewhere.

Canada is the first market outside of the U.S. to receive Expedia+, which will operate identically here. Shannon says this was done to not give the impression Canadians were receiving a different or inferior version of the program, which was soft-launched in November through email communications with existing members.

With the wide launch, Expedia+ is now being promoted with a spot produced by Grip that began airing on TV and online this week. It will run until the end of February, with MediaCom handling the buy. More creative centred around the program will be released through the rest of the year, being added to a mix that includes a previously announced online content play.

Expedia is also running introductory offers for the program where users that book a package with receive double points, with those doing so on the mobile app receiving triple points.

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