Loyalty Case Study: Expedia+

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There are very few people who enjoy the work of planning a vacation.  With the exception of my best friend, I don’t know anyone who gets excited about the idea of sitting down and researching the best and most affordable way to get from Point A to Point B.  Between the hotels, flights, and car rentals, there are a lot of expensive loose ends that can keep even the savviest of travelers from enjoying their trip.  

That’s where Expedia comes in.  If you’re not familiar, Expedia is an online travel service that aims to help you book everything faster and cheaper.  This is already a noble goal, but they don’t stop there.  With the introduction of Expedia+, Expedia reaches even higher by striving to make the booking experience quick and enjoyable, instead of long and painful.  

If you’re sceptical of whether or not this is possible, you’re not alone!  What they hope to do is no small feat, so with many other weary vacationers on my side, I took it upon myself to figure out if Expedia+ can actually deliver what it promises.

 

 

Up, Up, and Away

At a glance, Expedia+ is well set up to deliver a first-class rewards experience with every interaction.  Upon closer inspection, it reveals several reasons that this program is cleared for takeoff. 

1. Visibility

No matter how amazing a loyalty program is, it can’t succeed unless people participate.  The key to this participation is visibility.  After all, people can’t sign up for a program if they don’t know it exists!

expedia+ rewards

Expedia+ takes this concept seriously, creating a web experience that is fully committed to member recruitment.  For starters, they have a prominent link located in the top navigation bar of their website.  This link is visible on every single page, ensuring that each new and returning customer is exposed to it at some point during every visit.  

expedia+ join now

Once customers have navigated to the Rewards page, they’re prompted several more times to join the program.  These clearly labelled calls to action give the Expedia+ program the same level of attention as the other services Expedia offers.  With so many opportunities to enroll, customers have absolutely no excuse to say they didn’t know about the program.  Now that’s what I call paying attention to retention! 

2. Manageable Sections

There’s nothing more off-putting than huge blocks of text.  Regardless of how valuable your program might be, if customers are required to read pages and pages of text they’re way less likely to join.  Online shoppers are looking for quick and easy solutions, which means your explainer page better follow suit!  

expedia+ redeem

This is another area that Expedia+ excels.  Instead of one long page of text, their explainer page is broken up into bite size chunks of text and images that highlight the program’s best features first.  By presenting their program in small, digestible sections, Expedia saves their customers the trouble of trying to determine the best place to start.  

expedia+ new member

Additionally, highlighting their program’s value gives Expedia+ the opportunity to make a positive first impression.  Combining this with the power of their many CTAs draws customers into the benefits of participating and pushes them one step closer to signing up.

3. Benefits at a Glance

I already touched on this, but Expedia+ does it so well that it’s worth exploring in more detail – particularly in regards to their customer tiers.  Like many other travel programs, Expedia+ divides their program members into three different groups based on how much money they spend with Expedia in a year.  

expedia+ tiers qualification

At this point you may be wondering how this is so different from any other tiered loyalty program, and that’s a fair question.  However, where most other tiered programs simply present their customers with a table of benefits, Expedia+ has divided their benefits into three distinct categories: Benefits to save you money, Benefits to reward you, and Benefits of service.  

expedia+ tiers chart

Presenting benefits this way is absolutely genius because it targets three of the most common customer motivations: greed, pleasure, and vanity.   This makes it easy for customers who look for particular rewards to see what they’re getting, eliminating any and all doubt as to whether the program will truly benefit them.

 

 

Mayday – We Have a Problem

Even the best pilots experience turbulence sometimes, and Expedia+ is no different.  For each of their truly outstanding features, there’s one that makes it difficult to get off the ground. 

1. Lack of Clarity

When I first visited the Expedia+ Rewards page, I was very confused.  Although the page was titled, I was given no indication of what information I would find there or what the program was for.  In fact, I began to wonder if I had somehow navigated to a different Rewards subpage.  After doing a little digging, I found a program description in the Frequently Asked Questions section, but this separation is too great to provide real clarity.  

expedia+ FAQ description

Without a direct title or introductory paragraph, prospective members aren’t really introduced to Expedia+.  Instead, they’re simply thrown into what the program has to offer and expected to understand how it works.  This presentation method feels very abrasive, so while it’s important to put your best rewards foot forward, it’s equally important to properly introduce your program so that customers can truly understand its benefits. 

2. The Mysterious Expedia+ Marketplace

As I scrolled through the Expedia+ explainer page, I stumbled upon a link near the bottom labeled “Expedia+ Marketplace”.  Intrigued, I clicked on it…and was immediately redirected back to the top of the page.  

expedia+ marketplace

This may seem like a small thing, but to me there are few things worse than a dead link because they lessen the professional nature of a page and frustrate the customer.  In this case customers were invited to click the Expedia+ Marketplace link to find more information.  By sending them back to where they were, Expedia has created a vicious loop that doesn’t satisfy customers’ needs and adds a pain point that can negatively impact the overall customer experience.

3. Hidden Expiration Dates

Expedia+ does an excellent job of outlining how to move through each of their customer tiers, but what isn’t clear is how long a member’s status lasts.  When you first look at each of the customer tier tables, there’s no evidence that a member’s status expires.  The FAQ section, however, tells a very different story.

expedia+ elite tier

Making this information difficult to find is an immediate red flag, especially in light of the Air Miles expiry debacle.  Brands that are transparent about program conditions are more likely to build authentic relationships with their customers and eliminate the risk of surprising them with unsavory information farther down the line.  No matter how beneficial your rewards program is, customers never appreciate feeling duped. 

 

 

Taking Flight With Expedia+

Just like any perfect vacation, Expedia+ experiences one or two hiccups before getting off the ground.  Some missing information and hidden expiration details put a ripple in the customer experience, but incredible visibility and easy-to-read sections showcase the program’s benefits quickly and effectively.

So whether you’re jetting off on a dream vacation or simply going to visit in-laws, including Expedia+ in your trip planning toolkit is sure to make any trip one worth taking.