Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals
Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - The Early Days of Expedia
Expedia emerged in the infancy of the consumer internet era and quickly established itself as a pioneer in online travel booking. Founded in 1996 as a division of Microsoft, Expedia was originally conceived as a service to help consumers research and book travel online. In those early days, the travel industry was dominated by brick-and-mortar travel agencies and calling an agent to book flights or a hotel stay was standard practice.
Expedia changed the game by allowing travelers to bypass travel agents and directly book flights, hotels, rental cars and more through an intuitive online platform. In the late 1990s, the idea of booking travel on the internet was novel and Expedia made the process simple and convenient. As more households gained internet access in the early 2000s, Expedia saw its popularity skyrocket.
In its first few years, Expedia focused primarily on the U.S. market. But it soon expanded internationally and established sites in Canada, the U.K., Germany, Italy and other countries. This global growth catapulted Expedia as one of the largest online travel agencies in the world.
One of Expedia’s smartest early innovations was forming strategic partnerships with airlines, hotels and other suppliers. This provided Expedia access to discounted rates that you couldn’t find elsewhere online. Access to exclusive rates gave Expedia a competitive edge over rivals like Travelocity and Sabre.
Expedia marketed itself as a travel agent replacement, touting its tech-forward platform and breadth of inventory. Clever marketing campaigns like the “Don’t Just Travel, Expedia” ads resonated with digitally-savvy travelers who wanted flexibility and deals without the hassle of calling a traditional travel agent.
In the early 2000s, Expedia began making strategic acquisitions that expanded its portfolio into new segments like corporate travel, vacation packages and luxury offerings. Key acquisitions like Hotels.com, Hotwire, Egencia and more helped cement Expedia as a diversified travel behemoth.
What else is in this post?
- Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - The Early Days of Expedia
- Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - How Expedia Disrupted the Travel Industry
- Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Expedia's Mergers and Acquisitions Over the Years
- Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Comparing Expedia to Other Online Travel Agencies
- Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Finding the Lowest Fares on Expedia
- Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Using Expedia Rewards to Your Advantage
- Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Expedia's Best Features for Business Travelers
- Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Insider Tips for Getting the Most out of Expedia
Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - How Expedia Disrupted the Travel Industry
When Expedia first launched in the 1990s, the travel landscape looked very different than it does today. Booking a trip usually meant calling up a travel agent, telling them your desired dates and destination, and essentially crossing your fingers that they could find something close to what you wanted at a reasonable price. Expedia disrupted this status quo in several key ways.
First, Expedia made travel research and booking seamless by centralizing everything in one online platform. Before Expedia, travelers had to consult multiple sources like guidebooks, brochures and word-of-mouth tips to research destinations and hotels. Expedia aggregated all that information, allowing you to easily compare details on locations, amenities and prices. No more guessing if one hotel was better than another - you could see for yourself.
Expedia also expanded transparency in pricing. Pre-internet, travelers had no way to verify if the rate quoted by an agent was actually the lowest price. Expedia listed prices from major airlines, hotels and car rental companies side-by-side, introducing competition. Travelers could see with their own eyes exactly how much they would pay on Expedia vs. going to an individual airline site or calling an agency.
Access to discounted rates not publicly available was another way Expedia shook up the status quo. By partnering directly with travel suppliers, Expedia secured exclusive rates and last-minute deals you couldn't get anywhere else. Travelers soon realized they could often save more by booking directly on Expedia instead of going through a middleman agent.
The convenience of booking online 24/7 was arguably the biggest innovation. No more being at the mercy of agent hours to modify an itinerary or make additional bookings for your trip. Expedia also introduced flexible cancellation policies and easy ways to combine flight, hotel and car reservations. This allowed travelers much more freedom and control over every aspect of trip planning.
For travel suppliers like airlines and hotels, Expedia provided direct access to a massive pool of potential customers. Instead of relying solely on agents to steer bookings their way, suppliers could entice Expedia visitors with special offers and competitive rates. The success of this model soon had nearly every major hotel and airline partnering with Expedia.
Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Expedia's Mergers and Acquisitions Over the Years
Expedia’s shrewd mergers and acquisitions have been key to its meteoric rise over the past two decades. By acquiring brands that complement its core offerings, Expedia has expanded into nearly every facet of online travel booking. This strategic growth has allowed Expedia to provide travelers with a one-stop shop for flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises and more.
One of Expedia’s earliest acquisitions was booking site Travelscape in 2000. This purchase gave Expedia access to Travelscape’s supply of discounted hotel rates, strengthening Expedia’s core hotel business. Expedia also acquired a 75% stake in activity booking company Classic Custom Vacations in 2002. This allowed Expedia to move into the tours and attractions segment and bundle activity bookings with existing flight and hotel offerings.
Majority purchase of Hotels.com in 2003 instantly boosted Expedia’s global footprint, given Hotels.com’s presence in over 30 countries at the time of acquisition. Expedia chose to keep Hotels.com as a distinct brand, allowing it to diversify its portfolio and appeal to budget-focused travelers. Priceline acquired Expedia’s original parent company Microsoft in 2003, but Expedia spun off as an independent publicly traded company.
In the mid-2000s, Expedia went on an acquisition spree as demand for online travel bookings continued to surge. Key purchases like TripAdvisor in 2004, online travel agency eLong in China in 2005 and corporate booking platform Egencia in 2006 further expanded Expedia’s global reach. Buying meta search site SideStep in 2007 also boosted Expedia’s visibility across flight, hotel and car rental search engines.
Expedia’s most lucrative acquisition was likely its 2009 purchase of discount travel search engine Hotwire for $1.3 billion. Adding opaque “Hot Rate” hotels and package deals to the Expedia fold appealed to bargain-hunting travelers. Other notable acquisitions like CruiseShipCenters, car rental site CarRentals.com and subsidiary Orbitz Worldwide have rounded out Expedia’s portfolio over the past decade.
Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Comparing Expedia to Other Online Travel Agencies
When it comes to booking flights, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages online, travelers have no shortage of sites and apps to choose from. But industry veteran Expedia tends to come out favorably compared to competitors when you look closely at key metrics like inventory, user experience and loyalty perks.
One area where Expedia shines is its depth of travel supplier inventory. Expedia has been in the game since 1996 and has spent decades cultivating partnerships with airlines, hotels, rental car companies and resorts. This means you can find an immense selection of major carriers and brands on Expedia that some newer OTAs lack. Expedia also uses its size to negotiate exclusive rates and flash sales that cut consumer costs.
When comparing loyalty programs, Expedia Rewards outpaces many competitors with its instant perks and easy point earning. Simply booking trips earns points without jumping through hoops. Redeeming points for travel discounts starts quickly at just 2,500 points with no blackout dates. Elite status tiers like Silver, Gold and Platinum offer escalating benefits like bonus points, free upgrades and VIP access that keep travelers engaged.
One downside commonly noted is Expedia's opaque pricing tactics compared to sites like Priceline that show all fees upfront. Savvy Expedia users recommend factoring in charges for seat selection, baggage, etc. not obvious at booking. Expedia's broad reach as a travel conglomerate owning Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity and more also draws complaints of monopolization. However, the expanded inventory from these partnerships usually wins out.
Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Finding the Lowest Fares on Expedia
Knowing a few insider tricks can unlock serious savings on Expedia. Given Expedia's vast inventory across airlines, hotels and activities, scoring a rock-bottom fare takes strategy beyond just entering dates and hitting search. Mastering Expedia's maze of filters and settings helps surface the hidden gems.
Savvy Expedia users always start broad initially - don't get married to specific flight times or even airlines when first searching. Be flexible on layovers, nearby airports and red-eye flights to maximize options. Opening up search parameters casts a wider net that exposes discounts not obvious at first glance. Don't let Expedia default to your home airport either if other cities within driving distance offer cheaper launch points.
Once you’ve gathered a big picture view of price ranges, drill down using filters and custom settings. Toggle "Best Fare" to prioritize the lowest prices over fastest routes or favorite carriers. Enable the "Price Graph" feature to visualize when dropping travel dates could boost savings - slight shifts of even 1-2 days can unlock marked discounts when demand dips.
Sorting low to high and monitoring price drops is crucial. Expedia drops rates dynamically, so resist booking right away even if the price seems decent. Tracking fares using Expedia's price monitoring tool ensures you pounce when deals dip lowest before expiring. Set fare alerts so you never miss flash sales that pop up unexpectedly.
Avoid getting swayed by bonus hotel or airline points unless they offset true out-of-pocket costs. Stick to cold hard cash prices when bargain hunting. And don’t forget to factor in add-on fees for seat selection, baggage, etc. that can sneakily inflate costs. Expedia sometimes displays base prices minus these mandatory extras.
Leveraging coupons and promo codes layers on extra savings once you’ve found the optimal flight or hotel. Check Expedia's deals page, sign up for emails and scout refer-a-friend bonuses. Developing a contact list of fellow travel enthusiasts can net referral points for all parties.
Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Using Expedia Rewards to Your Advantage
Savvy travelers know that loyalty programs are about way more than just racking up points - you’ve got to know how to maximize their value. Expedia Rewards operates a bit differently than traditional airline and hotel programs, making it crucial to understand the unique strategies that unlock serious perks. With over 80 million members, Expedia Rewards is one of the largest travel loyalty programs around. Yet many members fail to tap into key benefits simply because they don’t know how the program ticks.
The most important thing to realize about Expedia Rewards is that points carry tangible value from day one regardless of status level. You can redeem a measly 2,500 points for a $25 travel voucher on flights, hotels, car rentals and more. Unlike elite status tiers with lofty requirements, any member can immediately slash trip costs with points. This instant gratification incentivizes members to engage frequently to earn redemption discounts.
Since Expedia spans flights, hotels and activities, you rack up points on all bookings in a unified currency. Your earned rewards aren’t siloed within a single airline or hotel chain. This flexibility allows you to redeem points to lower costs across all aspects of travel. Expedia also runs lucrative promotions where you can quadruple point earnings on hotel stays, car rentals and activities - a huge accelerator.
Status seekers should understand how Expedia’s VIP program works, too. Silver status unlocks at just 7,500 points with perks like free upgrades and insurance. Gold starts at just 25,000 for extras like VIP hotel amenity access. And 100,000 points gains Platinum status with the elite red carpet treatment. Compared to rival elite tiers requiring heavy annual spending, Expedia’s reasonable requirements make status achievable for everyone.
Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Expedia's Best Features for Business Travelers
Juggling complex itineraries across time zones is hard enough without wrestling finicky travel sites. Expedia simplifies booking for road warriors by optimizing for flexibility, visibility and control. Smoothing out the kinks in coordinating multi-stop trips saves business travelers sanity.
Hands down, easy flight change and cancellation policies are Expedia’s biggest asset for jetsetters needing wiggle room. Most Expedia-booked flights allow same-day changes and next-day cancellations with limited fees – a rarity now. This gives you breathing room to modify last-minute without punitive airline change penalties. Expedia even has a nifty “Cancel For Any Reason” option for full refunds on some fares if plans shift.
Expedia’s “Add Flight” tool streamlines building multi-city itineraries on a single ticket. No more hassling with separate bookings that complicate changes later. The attached flights act as one reservation for simplicity. Expedia’s multi-city fare finder adjusts dates and airports to identify savings, masterfully untangling complex routes.
Staying on budget is easier with Expedia’s upfront pricing and bundling options. Unlike some OTAs using hidden fees, Expedia shows full pricing including bags and seat selection when searching. Custom flight + hotel packages with discounted bundled rates simplify cost analysis in planning. Expedia’s pre-negotiated rates at preferred brand hotels like Marriott and Hilton also keep lodging predictable within policy.
Robust filtering and sorting make quickly identifying acceptable options easier when you’re not picky. “Display only my preferred airline” limits results to your go-to carrier. One-click filters like “Morning departure” and “Afternoon arrival” zone in on ideal timing. When you’re open, sort “Cheapest to Most Expensive” to grab the best value flights.
Finally, Expedia’s 24/7 traveler support provides a safety net when you inevitably hit roadblocks. Reaching a human via web chat or phone at odd hours is invaluable during travel disruptions. Expedia reps can swiftly rebook connections, find alternate hotels and solve issues with a few clicks. Their experience navigating changes for all client types brings confidence in tricky situations.
Unraveling Expedia: The Origins and Insider Tips for Getting the Best Deals - Insider Tips for Getting the Most out of Expedia
Mastering Expedia takes insider knowledge. With so many filters, tools and settings buried within the site, novice users barely scratch the surface of finding the best deals. Understanding Expedia’s quirks helps savvy travelers unlock real savings. We asked experienced Expedia users to share their top tips for extracting maximum value.
Hands down, most experts cited persistence and flexibility as the keys to success. Expedia drops rates randomly, so you have to diligently monitor prices instead of jumping on the first decent fare you see. Set price alerts and check back often to catch flash sales. Expert users suggest searching in incognito/private mode to avoid Expedia cookies hiking prices. Consider nearby airports and tweak dates by 1-2 days in any direction to trigger lower fares not immediately visible. Don’t limit yourself to nonstop flights either - adding a connection can lead to major savings if you don’t mind the extra stop.
Savvy users stress never assuming you’ve found “the best” price. There’s always a cheaper fare lurking with the right combination of airport, airline and travel dates. Keep mixing and matching permutations until you unearth the lowest rate possible. Expanding your departing and arrival time windows helps expose pricing dips for red-eyes, crack-of-dawn and late-night flights.
Loyalty members note the value of Expedia points goes beyond flights. You can slash hotel, rental car and activity costs with fewer points than airfare redemptions. So don’t just hoard points for vacations - use them strategically to cut routine business trip expenses. When redeeming points, compare value on dollar spent across different redemption options. Using fewer points for higher monetary savings gets the most bang for your buck.
Many insiders leverage Expedia’s bundled vacation packages to snag deep discounts they can't find piecing together separately. Savvy travelers build their own packages even for routine trips by adding a hotel night, airport transfer or meal plan to flight bookings. Even if you don’t use the full package, the overall discounted rate can beat individual a la carte pricing.