Expedia Group introduces online Covid info search for 7 travel brands

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Many people are eager to book a trip to their favorite summer vacation, but are unsure of Covid outbreaks or vaccination, testing, or quarantine requirements.

Expedia Group, an online travel retailer, Thursday launched COVID-19 Travel Advisor, an online tool that provides information on current travel restrictions for prospective and existing customers of seven of the company’s brands.

“Right now, many people are considering booking travel as the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine continues, but at the same time they are inundated with conflicting information about where and how to travel safely,” said Stacey Symonds, senior director of experience insights at Expedia Group, in a statement.

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“It can be challenging to find this data from a reliable source. That’s why we partnered with Sherpa to integrate a solution seamlessly into our apps, websites and customer communications,” she added. “Our goal is to reduce friction for travelers at a time when they need extra support and enable them to make responsible decisions.”

Expedia Group has partnered with Sherpa, a global provider of travel identification requirements for the travel industry, to provide the tool. Sherpa’s technology has also been deployed in similar joint efforts with airlines American Airlines and Caribbean Airlines, the airline alliance OneWorld, and the travel company The Travel Corp.

Expedia Group introduced the COVID-19 Travel Advisor on April 8, 2021, a technical resource that provides consumers with up-to-date information about travel restrictions worldwide.

Expedia Group

“Travel is critical to our global economy and an important part of human connection,” Max Tremaine, Sherpa co-founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Since the outbreak of the pandemic, our focus has remained on helping our travel partners restore consumer and travel confidence.”

A pilot phase of COVID-19 travel advisor that began in late November attracted 1.6 million users, and Expedia Group registered 1.8 million visits to the tool across all of its brands in March alone, up 97% from February – meaning “lots of repeated use as travelers plan several upcoming trips,” the company said.

Online travel agents such as Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and other Expedia Group brands such as the online vacation home rental site Vrbo are seeing a leap in the business, with consumers’ online travel planning up nearly 25% on such sites compared to the pre-pandemic period, according to a recent survey by Expedia Group Media Solutions.

“At Vrbo, we experienced record-breaking demand for vacation rentals in the first months of the year, and we are encouraged to see other Expedia Group brands on the way to a strong recovery,” said Jeff Hurst, Vrbo president and marketing co lead at Expedia Group, told CNBC.com. “People are eager to reconnect safely with family, friends and colleagues, but navigating evolving travel restrictions can prove difficult.

“With the COVID-19 travel advisor, we are breaking that barrier so that travelers can easily access reliable information to unlock their next trip,” he added. “So far we have had success with this tool, and we continue to improve our technology to support the needs of travelers, hosts and industry partners.”

The brands incorporating Expedia Group’s new COVID-19 Travel Advisor are Ebookers, Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, Vrbo and Wotif.