Expedia MD: How we're rallying around the customer

In CMO's series of CEO-level profiles, we chat with MD of Expedia, Georg Ruebensal, about his views on modern marketing strategy and the CMO

Expedia MD, Georg Ruebensal
Expedia MD, Georg Ruebensal

Expedia Australia’s managing director, Georg Ruebensal, talks about how the group is striving to improve customer lifetime value.

Marketing and digital… go hand-in-hand for us. Too many companies have very different presentations of their offline and online presence, but we see each as an extension of the other. As a full-service online travel agent, we don’t own the end product (the hotel room or airline seat), we are only selling a ‘commodity’. Therefore, apart from the scope and range we offer, our product differentiator is user experience. Whether we talk to customers at the top of the funnel through an inspirational TV campaign, target travellers when they are ready to buy through retargeting or other direct response channels, or address those in the final purchase stages on our website, the core brand story remains the same: Expedia is the place to go for any of your travel needs.

As a CEO, my perception of marketing… has and hasn’t changed in recent years. The importance of marketing hasn’t changed at all, but yes, our understanding of it certainly is continuously evolving. Gone are the days when we only looked at brand, database and search engine marketing. The business opportunities – and risks – have increased considerably, with new players and concepts that didn’t exist a few years ago. Then there’s the ever-evolving social landscape, retargeting and custom audiences to address, plus a new breed of meta and affiliate travel sites. All of these provide new opportunities to position our products and services.

Today’s CMO… must integrate and work with all teams to ensure our brand message reflects our products and lives across all touchpoints – from advertising, customer acquisition and retail to the offline and post-trip experience. Equally important is identifying and capitalising on new trends and marketing opportunities, which almost always these days are data driven.

We are developing a business culture focused on customer centricity… by striving to understand what our customers think about Expedia, from booking until they have returned from their trip. To do this, we have implemented a Net Promoter Score (NPS) across many touchpoints. We have a large screen with our current NPS in the staff kitchen, and each new rating we receive pops up in a coloured tile with the products booked and customer commentary. That alone is driving good conversations. The NPS is also fully embedded into our KPIs, driven by a dedicated customer experience director, and has the same business prominence as the financial results. We are now translating a 1-point change in NPS into actual financial gain/loss based on customer lifetime value, making it even more tangible for everyone to rally behind our customer value proposition.

Related: Dell, Expedia share how they're striving to improve customer engagement

Big data recently helped us… enhance our US flight search capabilities. The average number of searches a customer makes per booking has increased from 15 to 48 over the past few years. Our recommendation service, which will soon launch in Australia, uses patterns from how other travellers search for the same route, and finds alternatives such as different airports, dates or airline combinations.

One game-changing technology trend impacting our industry… is the advance of multi-device shopping. Understanding our customers’ path to purchase is no longer as straightforward as it used to be and the relevancy of technology previously used has been reduced. This is something that impacts all of our customer touchpoints and marketing channels, so making smart technology investments has become an even greater priority.

About the company

Expedia is an online-based travel agency providing business and consumer booking services for flights, hotels, car rentals, tours and holiday package deals. The US-based company has 20 localised websites, plus mobile apps and Facebook properties, and claims to have millions of users planning travel activities via its site every month.

This article originally appeared in CMO's June 2014 magazine edition. To subscribe to your complimentary copy of our print title or our weekly newsletter, subscribe here .

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Signup to CMO’s email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Social purpose: Oxygen for your brand health vitals

If trust is the new currency, then we’re in deep trouble. Here's why.

Carolyn Butler-Madden

Founder and CEO, Sunday Lunch

Customer experience disruption: Healthcare faces a bitter pill

Over the past decade, disruptors such as Amazon, Apple and Australia’s Atlassian have delivered technology enhanced customer experiences, which for the most part, have improved customers’ lives and delivered unparalleled growth. Can they do the same for healthcare?

Alex Allwood

Principal, All Work Together

How can a brand remain human in a digital world?

Some commentators estimate that by 2020, 85 per cent of buyer-seller interactions will happen online through social media and video*. That’s only two years away, and pertinent for any marketer.

James Kyd

Global head of brand strategy and marketing, Xero

https://bit.ly/2qLgzmR Transform your life a proven digital blueprint

Okitoi Steven

How this banking group tackled a digital marketing transformation

Read more

Its great to hear that companies including JCDecaux, oOh!media, Omnicom and Posterscope Australia have all partnered with Seedooh inorder...

Blue Mushroom Infozone Pvt Ltd

Out of home advertising companies strive for greater metrics and transparency

Read more

Much ado about nothingAnother fluff piece around what it could possibly do rather than what it is doing

gve

How AMP is using AI to create effortless ‘experiences’

Read more

is it true that Consumer expectations are also changing as a result. If we trust someone with our data there is also an expectation that ...

Sunita Madan

Society will decide where digital marketing takes us next: Oracle

Read more

This Blog is Very interesting to read and thank you for sharing the valuable information about Machine Learning. The information you prov...

johny blaze

What machine learning has done for the Virgin Velocity program

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in