What is Expedia booking?

In essence, Expedia booking allows travellers from around the world to discover and book your hotel online. Travellers can find your hotel by searching for accommodations in your area, compare prices, read reviews, and ultimately make a reservation.

As a hotel owner or manager, you might have heard about or already used Expedia, but it’s worth understanding precisely what Expedia booking entails.

Expedia not only helps travellers find the right place to stay but also assists hotel owners like you by filling rooms and maximising revenue. The platform is designed to help you reach potential guests who may not have found your hotel otherwise.

However, while using Expedia for bookings can certainly boost your visibility and reservations, it’s not a silver bullet for all your reservation-related challenges. Relying on Expedia bookings to entirely fill your calendar and Expedia platform to handle all of your listing management is a surefire way to become dependent on a third party and have to shell out more than you’d like in commissions. 

Whether you’re already using Expedia or just starting to explore the world of online booking platforms, this blog will assist you in getting the most out of your partnership with Expedia and where it’s best to expand your horizons and look to other providers and tools for success.

Why are Expedia bookings popular among travellers?

Expedia is one of the world’s most popular holiday websites and you’d be hard pressed to find a hotel chain that doesn’t take bookings through the platform in some shape or form. Expedia solves many of the challenges that travellers face, with its booking system built on several key factors:

  1. Broad utility. Expedia doesn’t just do hotel bookings – it does car rentals, air travel, and more as well. This makes it a one-stop-shop for travellers who want to sort out everything in one go, and with over 435,000 hotels and 400 airlines covered in its catalogue, travellers have plenty to pick from. One downside to that, however, is that this means there’s a huge amount of competition on the platform for hotel owners too. To succeed on Expedia, you must stand out.
  2. Ease of use. Planning travel can be stressful, but booking through Expedia means that travellers can use a range of search and comparison tools to find the perfect hotel or holiday package for them. That includes search, filters, rich listing descriptions, previous guest reviews, and more. Basically, it’s super easy to use, and that makes it a top pick for stressed out travellers.
  3. Trustworthiness. Nobody wants to discover that the hotel they thought they booked hasn’t actually been open for the last 10 years. Trustworthiness is a key resource in the tourism game, and booking through Expedia means that guests get 24/7 support to work through any issues. Expedia also reportedly works diligently with suppliers to ensure that listings are accurate and up-to-date, though you have to wonder if they really manage to keep everything in order with literally millions of listings available across the globe. Successful hoteliers, big or small, rely on a channel manager to handle that side of things.
  4. Price. Price is a massive part of where travellers choose to book and in Expedia’s case, the platform they choose to book through. Expedia offers packaged deals and a loyalty programme to entice travellers to book through them and, if you’re a hotelier who participates in that loyalty programme, this can be a boon for you as well. However, keep in mind, just because Expedia gives travellers a good deal doesn’t mean that you get one. Guests aren’t charged for getting a booking through Expedia, so their model relies on commissions being charged to hotels on their platform. They take a pretty significant chunk of your revenue with every booking made.
  5. Mobile accessibility. Everybody knows that if you’re not mobile responsive, then you’re not really open for business! Travellers are researching, booking and communicating with their hotels through their mobiles more than ever, and Expedia has adapted to that with a user-friendly UX design for devices of all shapes and sizes. They have an app too – though don’t think that your direct booking experience has to match them app-for-app. You can get a great mobile responsive website and booking engine through Little Hotelier without having to dive into complex code.

Understanding the Expedia booking process

Getting to know the Expedia booking process from both your perspective and the perspective of your guests means that you’ll be better equipped to make more from your Expedia bookings. Here’s what you need to know:

How customers search and book on Expedia

Expedia, like other search engines, is primarily driven by a search function. This search function allows guests to search for a destination, a check in and checkout time, and gives the option of adding a flight and/or a car to build a package. Once they hit “search”, Expedia spits out a long list of available listings, along with details about pricing, ratings, amenities, cancellation policies, and so on.

To dig deeper, users can use filters to set a price range, a guest rating, a particular amenity (e.g. spa, hot tub, breakfast included, etc). There’s a “Recommended” sort function as well, and hotels can pay to get higher in the sort order too.

Once a guest finds a place they like, they can book that listing directly in Expedia. From their end, it’s all sorted. The hotelier will then receive information about that booking and, if they have a connected software partner like Little Hotelier attached, it’ll be automatically added to their schedule. 

Reservation confirmation

Once the booking is made, Expedia handles the initial guest communication and confirmations. This is made up of an itinerary to the customer which states what they’ve booked, with whom, and when, and usually also includes important information around cancellation policies, terms and conditions, and so on.

If you want to communicate further with your guests, Expedia does allow for manual messages and scheduled messages through their platform, but keep in mind that this tool can only be used for experiences booked via Expedia. If you have listings on more than just Expedia, you’ll have to juggle logins and keep track of who booked through where to ensure that you have a consistent guest experience.

Expedia fees 

Does Expedia charge a fee? Booking through Expedia costs a guest nothing. The only money that a traveller pays through an Expedia booking is for the things they’ve booked. Instead, Expedia makes their money from charging commissions to your hotel.

The exact commission rate is highly variable. Most of it depends on the size of your hotel and whether you’re considered a “big brand” or not. Independent, smaller hotels tend to pay between 15% and 30% per listing, whereas big brands will pay 10% to 15%. The smaller you are, the more commission you’ll need to pay, unfortunately. 

Expedia’s cancellation and refund policies

Expedia bookings have two types of cancellation policies:

  • Fully refundable. This means that the booking can be cancelled up to 48 hours before the check-in date and the guest will receive a full refund.
  • Non-refundable. This means that no money will be returned to the guest, should they cancel at any time.

You can also set your own cancellation policies and include things like a cancellation fee that applies if a guest cancels within 48 hours of the check-in date.

It’s vital to get your cancellation policies right for your hotel. If you set too strong a cancellation policy, you may find that guests are wary of booking with you. If you set them too liberal, you may haemorrhage revenue from having to refund rooms. It’s a balancing act.

Improve property’s visibility on Expedia

Ranking highly in the Expedia sort order is crucial for success on the platform. Thankfully, Expedia is fairly transparent about the factors that help you appear higher on the list and get more attention from guests searching for hotels like yours.

Properties are ranked on the basis of two visibility metrics:

  1. Offer strength. This is based on the completeness of your listings, the photo quality and quantity, the rate competitiveness and the room availability of your hotel. Basically, the better your offer compared to others, the better you’ll rank.
  2. Guest experience. This revolves around your refund rates and rate of preventable issues, your staff and service reviews, your amenities and cleanliness reviews, your check in ratings and your preventable cancellations rate. Basically, the better your review score, the higher your rank.

Combine these two together and add in things like sponsored boosts and you have an overview of why you’re ranking where you’re ranking.

Tips on how to manage Expedia bookings successfully

Expedia bookings can be a great way to increase your total number of reservations and increase your reach to new audiences, but how do you ensure that you’re making the most of those opportunities? Here are a few tips and best practices:

  • Professional photos. Investing in high quality professional photos ensures that visitors to your Expedia page get the best possible first impression of what you have to offer. These are key to standing out from the crowd.
  • Expedia OTAs. Expedia works with a variety of different OTAs and allows you to choose which channels you want to accept bookings through. Ideally, you should go for quality over quantity and only work with those OTAs that best align with your own hotel brand.
  • Sponsored listings. Expedia offers opportunities to boost your listings by putting some dollar spend behind them, which can be an effective way to get more reservations through the platform (particularly during quiet points of the year).
  • Channel manager. Expedia can let you manage all your listings on their platform from one place, but if you’re expanding your presence beyond solely Expedia, you’ll have to juggle multiple logins. Use a channel manager for this aspect instead to ensure that you have a single source of truth and a single place to manage every listing across every platform.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).