Hotel Tech Lab, Pt.6

Speaker Insight: Elena Quijano, EXPEDIA

Copy Expedia’s secret of success – by not being afraid of failure

After the success of the first edition in Prague in April, Availpro took the Hotel Tech Lab to the UK in May

The second edition staged at The Hoxton, Holborn, in London on May 16 explored the theme of “Fresh Trends in Hospitality”. The event attracted another full house of hoteliers, all eager to draw on the insights of six expert speakers – including Elena Quijano, area manager for Expedia

The final speaker of the day before delegates retired to the bar for wine and canapés was Quijano, who shared insights on the OTA behemoth’s commitment to product innovation. “We’re not just a travel company, we’re also a tech company,” she asserted.

“Delight” is the keyword guiding such innovation. “We all want people to be able to come to the site and have a good booking experience, a delighted customer,” said Quijano. “And it’s the same for hotels – we both want a delighted customer.”


The difference is the resources at Expedia’s disposal. It has a user experience team and spends millions of dollars to try and make everything work as seamlessly as possible for the customer. To this end, they invite consumers who have a trip in mind to its laboratories (Expedia have three labs globally) so they can observe how they interact with the site. By methods such as facial electromyography (EMG), eye-tracking technology and A/B testing (where two variants of a page are shown to users at random), they can measure not only what consumers are looking at, but their emotional reactions during the booking process.

The results of this testing has led to Expedia swapping over the position of the product image and the price on the page, a simple switch that increased conversions. It’s also inspired the introduction of the Scratchpad, which means the customer no longer needs to keep scribbled notes of flights, hotels etc., because their searches are saved and the prices automatically updated.

But what can hoteliers with budgets a fraction of the size learn from Expedia’s approach? “We do a lot of testing – and we’re not afraid to fail,” said Quijano. “Throw enough stuff at the wall and see what sticks. Don’t be afraid of being wrong, embrace it.”


For the full event recap, read here