“Time is cost to a consumer”: Expedia’s Drew Bowering at Maximum Occupancy

Lauren Croft

ICYMI, Maximum Occupancy was held last week in Sydney, and we had the pleasure of attending!

Maximum Occupancy is Australasia’s leading Accommodation Industry Conference – and this year, had a record number of attendees, new exhibitors, exciting content and fantastic keynote speakers.

There were a ton of killer speakers present, and the event included keynotes and panellists from Google, Expedia, RevenYou, Triptease, Revinate, Hotelscombined, Ovolo Hotels, BIG4 Holiday Parks and other industry experts.

We sat in on Expedia’s Drew Bowering explaining how to engage travellers throughout their journey – and boy did we learn a lot.

Bowering is the senior director, market management for Expedia Oceania, and outlined two megatrends that shape product culture.

The first is that the pace of change relating to technology and innovation that’s impacting the travel industry is at an all-time high.

“Technology is moving so, so fast – tomorrow looks different to what we know today,” Bowering said.

The second megatrend is that consumer engagement is at an all-time low.

“The time that you get in front of a consumer is at such a premium like it never has been before,” he said.

“Time is cost to a consumer, and that’s super important to understand when you think about these statistics: the average user of a smartphone checks it 110 times a day. A more addicted user checks it around 900 times a day.”

Bowering added that the average person will spend over five years on social media in total, and just over one year of their lives actually socialising in real life. And it’s starting at a younger age than ever – over 70 per cent of children in Korea have, and use, a smartphone.

So why does consumer engagement and technology matter so much?

“Every minute that you have with a customer now is worth way more than it used to be. That means, as product owners, the time that you have in terms of the ability to influence a customer is at a premium like it has never been before.

Which means it’s vital to deliver something that is more engaging than ever before – throughout the whole of the customer journey.

Bowering said that Expedia is engaging their customers – and their hotel and other travel partners – by listening to them.

“In 2017, we went around the world, speaking to tens of thousands of partners to hear from them.

“That doesn’t mean that we build everything our partners are asking for, but it does mean that the stuff we’re building has a higher degree of confidence, and will resonate with and engage our partners, and will, therefore, have a higher impact on our consumers as well.

Expedia has seen this method deliver them a better, more improved platform in 24 minutes – which Bowering said was all down to listening to their customers.

And listening has uncovered that, when booking a holiday, customers go through four phases: discovery, shop and book, experience and reflection. And in the context of booking a trip, customers are always thinking about four things: who’s travelling, when and how long we’re travelling for, why they’re travelling, and their budget.

And the key for maximum engagement is reaching customers throughout all aspects of their journey.