It’s no secret that here at Expedia we’re all about travel. In the past you’ve heard me talk a lot about consumer travel. Today I want to talk about our business travelers. Unmanaged business travelers represent about 20-30 percent of our customer base here at Expedia, and a solid number of these people are traveling on behalf of small- and medium-sized businesses. These travelers are important to us. And they’re usually some of the busiest folks around.

We understand how busy they are. We understand how challenging it can be to manage travel itineraries from different providers and in different places. So today—in the middle of Small Business Week—we’re excited to unveil a new program designed to make life for these travelers a lot easier.

The new program is called Expedia+ business, and it’s a loyalty program customized to suit the needs of today’s small business travelers in the United States.

The Expedia+ business program features a dedicated site where companies can view employee itineraries, monitor spending, and manage company rewards—all for free. Small business owners and company travel arrangers who participate in the program will find an easy-to-navigate online tool that simplifies expense and trip planning for all company travel.

Expedia+ business also provides both the company and employee with rewards and other exclusive benefits.

Companies can earn a US$100 hotel coupon for every 10 hotel nights booked, including those booked in the Expedia app and regardless of who in the company makes the booking. These coupons can be used by the company immediately, saved for future travel, or given as a gift to an employee toward personal leisure travel. Employees automatically are upgraded to the +silver tier of the Expedia+ rewards program, where they can earn personal Expedia+ points and frequent flier miles. They also gain access to perks such as free hotel amenities at more than 900 VIP Access hotels, as well as priority customer service.

  

We recently chatted with business owners who have participated in the program so far, and were delighted to hear some of their rave reviews. One of our customers, Bright Star Touring Theatre, puts on more than 55 different 45-minute shows every season and ends up booking about 35 different hotel rooms a week. They said that participating in the Expedia+ business program has “revolutionized the way Bright Star manages trips,” because they can manage all reservations in one place, update and monitor them on demand, and receive great discounts (as well as the US$100 hotel coupon).

Even before we chatted with these users, we knew there was a market for this sort of service. The total U.S. online travel market is a US$145-billion business (according to the July 2014 PhoCusWright Global Online Travel Overview), and unmanaged business travel makes up roughly 25 percent of that, which is a US$36-billion opportunity.

Expedia, in conjunction with Northstar, conducted some research of our own on the subject of small- and medium-sized business travel. Some of our findings:

  • 46 percent of 1,001 respondents said their travel budgets have increased in the past year.
  • When booking business travel, small business travelers spend an average of US$987 on a round-trip flight, US$228 dollars on a hotel, and US$214 on a rental car.
  • Younger travelers spend more on average than their older counterparts.

Additional analysis from Expedia indicated that small business travelers in the United States travel an average of eight times a year for a minimum of two nights (and an average total of 17 nights per year). This means small business can save up to US$4,512 annually per employee by booking a package using Expedia+ business.

This is a just a bit about Expedia+ business. Hopefully you can see some of the benefits of this program and that it is offering tools typically reserved for much larger businesses at no cost. This is especially important as businesses are looking for smarter ways to position themselves competitively and manage their bottom lines.

To find out more about the program and enroll if you represent a small business, please visit www.expedia.com/business.