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INTERVIEW


IN ASSOCIATION WITH


PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES


Expedia Partner Solutions’ Rapid API technology gives business travellers more flexibility and control when choosing accommodation


E


xpedia Partner Solutions is the B2B brand within Expedia Group, and powers the hotel business of TMCs, airlines, top consumer brands, travel agencies and hundreds of other part- ners through its API solution, EPS Rapid. EPS Rapid was launched in 2018 to give companies with a travel offering access to competitive accommodation rates and avail- abilities from more than 600,000 Expedia Group properties.


It also gives a new sense of flexibility to corporate travel providers, allowing them to enhance their offering with more relevant properties, all while supporting duty-of-care. Below, Alfonso Paredes, vice-president and managing director, EMEA & LATAM at EPS, outlines EPS Rapid’s benefits.


STAY FLEXIBLE


EPS offers flexible cancellation policies and payment options. This includes the ability to pay upon booking or at the property, with bookings available up to 500 days in advance, or up until 23:59 on the day of check-in. Our last-minute availability is a pull for TMCs because business trips can be booked without much notice, so having a good selection of properties for those “drop of a hat” trips is important. We also provide flexible payment options with a mix of pre-pay and post-pay rates; we know flexible cancellation policies are important as business plans can change from week-to-week.


KEEPING IN POLICY


In our research of 171 TMCs, 68 per cent of business travellers book half or more of their travel outside approved tools. Today, we work with more than 70 TMCs, and they like to work with us as we help them reduce corporates’ out-of-policy programme leakage by increasing hotel attach. As we have all of the Expedia Group supply in place, we can provide TMCs with the same inventory their customers and travellers see on a consumer app, which is what they expect. We also provide hotel supply in geographies where the travel partner has gaps – and where their corporate clients need it.


FILTER RESULTS


Our personalisation algorithms allow corpo- rate travel partners to filter out hotels that


buyingbusinesstravel.com


Alfonso Paredes, vice-president and managing director, EMEA & LATAM, EPS


2019 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 51


are not suitable for their travellers or do not meet their needs. EPS Rapid considers more than 50 attributes of each property (such as star rating, room or bed type, chain affilia- tions, whether or not the hotel is running a promotion, and even the language spoken at the front desk). If a business travel policy dictates hotels must be 3-star or above, or with a certain hotel chain, our travel partners can filter these results to be mapped to their booking system through EPS Rapid.


DUTY-OF-CARE


EPS supports duty-of-care. With easy-to- track itineraries, corporate travel partners can not only locate their employees but also get in touch with them when they need to. We know providing excellent customer service to travellers really matters. A lot of TMCs rely on our team of 1,300 highly trained service agents to offer either cus- tomer direct service and/or agent-to-agent support. In July this year, we launched version 2.3 of EPS Rapid, with enhance- ments such as EPS Conversations – a feature that allows business travellers to communi- cate directly with properties after complet- ing a booking. It’s ideal for those staying in a rental apartment who need to know how to access the property or find the keys.


SMOOTH INTEGRATION


EPS Rapid integrates with key agent and online booking tools, including Amadeus, Sabre, Travelport, Concur and more. Our integration consultants work closely with our travel partners to ensure EPS Rapid is integrated as seamlessly as possible, with minimal disruption during, and post- launch. The account management teams provide support to enable the travel partner to make the best possible use of EPS Rapid’s benefits to reach their business goals.


EXPEDIA ISN’T JUST ABOUT LEISURE At EPS, we’re committed to helping TMCs thrive. One of the greatest advantages is EPS can take the learnings and investments from Expedia Group in the leisure sector and apply it to B2B travel. In 2018, Expedia Group invested US$1.6 billion in technology inno- vation and for EPS, this centres around how best to use artificial intelligence and machine learning. While TMCs have unique needs, business travellers expect to have the same personalisation when they book a trip. They want relevant and timely accommodation, a positive booking experience, and support when they need it. That’s our sweet spot.


■ Go to expediapartnersolutions.com


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