Expedia is pleased to release its new tablet app for iOS and Android: A reimagined experience that is equal parts beautiful travel browser and connected trip booking resource.
Tarran Vaillancourt, my colleague from Expedia’s tech team, recently met up with Jerald Singh, senior director of mobile product, to learn more.
Tarran Vaillancourt (TV): What makes this new Expedia tablet app so special?
Jerald Singh (JS): We wanted to build a tablet experience that complemented how we see people discover, plan and book trips on tablet devices. Our earlier tablet app simply was a port of the phone app we have. It was successful in terms of transactions, but it didn’t really do anything to showcase the powerful tablets that are on the market today or how people use these unique devices.
Our hope is that this new app will be something in which travelers want to invest their time; a helpful tool to which they turn when they begin researching a trip and something they pick up on their couch or before they go to bed. We’ve made the app easy to navigate by removing the up-front questions travelers generally need to answer when they start thinking about a trip. We’ve replaced the fields you typically see with a single search box. All you need to know is where you are thinking about going.
The new app also provides a more lean-back experience with the inclusion of “collections.” These are beautiful, hand-curated destinations that appear along the bottom of the app. Users can explore them by scrolling right-to-left and select them with a single tap. These collections are specific to various regions around the world. In the United States, for example, we have a collection called, “National Parks.” New Zealand has a collection called, “Marathons around the World.” Right now, these collections have been created by Expedia staff and are a mixture of hot travel destinations and others that are more obscure. Over time, we will allow users of the app to create and share their own collections.
TV: Why invest in a standalone tablet app?
JS: Our approach to every mobile product we build at Expedia is very simple: We want to build the best travel apps. We want to create experiences that are beautiful and make travel easier. To achieve this, we have to make sure that each experience we build is tailored for the device the user is on. The travel use case for the phone app is very different than the tablet app, which is also different from the desktop site.
This approach is a risk—it’s no secret that the travel industry largely has gone the opposite route by continuing to view each interaction as a single transaction and pouring significant energy into making each one of those discrete transactions better. We’re presenting a stark contrast to the user interface seen across the industry, and we’re doing so based on data.
Essentially, we noticed that while the existing model may have worked for the PC era, it doesn’t work anymore. The reality is that today the status quo in travel search is unnatural on tablet devices. With industry research showing travelers using tablets more than ever, it made sense for us to invest in a new approach on tablets. Since we know tablets are the devices people use at home to browse and dream about their travel, our mobile designers and engineers handcrafted a completely new tool that takes advantage of the extra screen space and rich visuals that make the experience shine. We think the app helps alleviate decision friction and better connect travel planning in a simple, easy-to-use way.
We share a lot more info about how and why the app was built on our Science of Travel blog; check it out for behind-the-scenes info on our approach.
TV: How can our customers learn more?
Also, for people who try it today and are eager to book a trip, we have a 24-hour coupon code they can use to save US$100 on their first-time tablet app hotel purchase! Visit this site to claim your code (between 12:01 a.m. and 11:59 p.m. PDT on September 4, 2014) and for more info on the terms and conditions.
TV: Any last tidbits you’d like to share with our Expedia Viewfinder audience?
JS: Our teams across San Francisco; Minneapolis; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and Seattle have loved building an app that we believe is exceptional. We’ve taken some risks, but we firmly believe that people are ready to discover and experience travel in a more intuitive and connected way. As a team, we are excited to make another huge step in that direction with the introduction of our brand new Expedia app for tablets. We sincerely hope that our users love the app as much as we have enjoyed building it.