LAS VEGAS (NV) – Expedia introduces a number of technological and operational innovations this year that aim to improve the experience for travelers and suppliers. And one of the goals of the largest tourism sales group in the world is to increase its presence in the Latam market. By 2022, Expedia aims to have its best year in Latin America.
Em exclusive interview with M&E – who participated in Explore 22, the annual convention of the Las Vegas Expedia Group, Expedia Group Vice President LATAM & Caribe Freddy Dominguez spoke about the importance of the Latin American market, what these innovations mean for these destinations, and the group’s presence in Brazil.
“We have been operating in this market since 2005 and we hope to have our best year in 2022 at LATAM. Expedia is an American company and the first place we started operations after the USA was in Mexico, so we have been working in this market for some time. And after all these years, the bet is that 2022 will be our best year of all time “, explained Freddy Dominguez, VP LATAM & Caribe at Expedia Group.
“The bet is that 2022 will be our best year”
According to the Vice President, the LATAM market is important for Expedia, and Expedia is important for the LATAM market. “In the Caribbean, we have a very strong presence in all our brands, but as we move south, we lose some of that prominence, and the main reason for that is that our main market is the United States. This is not just a matter of brand recognition, but of the experience that South Americans have to go through to get to the United States. South America is not very well connected to the United States. We don’t have enough local airlines and we don’t have affordable products for the people there. “
Freddy added that what has been seen in Brazil, Colombia and Chile, mainly, is that the tourism industry in these destinations is largely domestic and it is difficult to enter these areas because there is a very interesting competition with local tourism companies. .
“We have chosen to win what we can and where we can – in relation to the Latam market – because we have been very successful in North America and elsewhere, we will continue to keep the offer, but we recognize that there will be places where our brands will not be as strong, and the smartest strategy will be to partner with local companies, ”said Dominguez.
The executive considers that the Latam market is divided into two epochs: pre-covid and post-covid. “Before Covid, Asian destinations largely dominated the growth of tourism. In 2021, the second most visited country in the world was Mexico, which was not even among the top five destinations in the world. And I think some of that has to stay. People discovered this destination for the first time – mainly for North Americans and they liked it. I believe that the Latam market will share this distribution in the growth of tourism as a result of the pandemic ”.
Expedia shows that about 80% of people plan their next trip with an emphasis on experience, relaxation, and tourism. “It’s no surprise, after almost three years locked up at home, people no longer want to travel to explore and discover museums in Berlin – no worries for the European market – but people want to go to relaxing destinations and Latin America has a full plate from this segment. I think we will do well in the future, “said Freddy.
Plans to expand presence in Brazil
Despite being the largest tourism and travel group in the world, Expedia still has a “weak” presence in the country. With much potential, the power of the group is mitigated by the fact that people do not associate the brand with the group.
Also in January of this year, Expedia TAAP (Expedia Travel Agent Affiliate Program) stopped accepting real payments for international bookings. According to Freddy, “It doesn’t help, but we had to do something we didn’t like. From a historical point of view, our business in Brazil was more internal, so this decision did not affect us as aggressively and the main reason why we had to do this is because of the IRRF “, he underlined.
Asked by M&E about plans to increase its presence in the country and strengthen its brand recognition, Freddy said he believes the work will be done in two parts: unifying the loyalty program and relying on partnerships with companies that already have a leading role. in Brazil.and intends to venture into the tourism segment.
“It simply came to our notice then. We strive to make Hotels.com, for example, a strong brand, but we don’t connect with our entire brand chain. We are starting to do this with the loyalty program, which will unify these brands, “he said.
“One of the reasons Hotels.com is so strong in Brazil is because of the current loyalty program. It’s easy to understand. 10 nights, 11 is free. We have a good presence with this brand in Brazil, but we are not as strong as Expedia in Brazil. Now imagine a unique loyalty program with all our brands, in a simple way and in which travelers can exchange points earned on Hotels.com for points on Expedia tickets. It helps us “, Dominguez explained.
Another strategy of the company is the strategic alliances with companies that want to enter the tourism market.
“In Brazil, there are some local market companies that are interesting and still do not sell in the travel segment, I’m talking about Rappi, Uber Eats, Ifood. All of these platforms are ultimately looking for ways to get into tourism, and when they do, they will need established partners. They don’t go after creating an inventory that I spent 25 years building. In theory, with ours open technology – announced in the convention – we will make partnerships and affiliation agreements so that people can consume travel through their favorite and already loyal brands and we will be the platform that gives power and leads this “, he concluded.