Many people are itching to book a trip to their favorite summer getaway spot but are not sure about Covid outbreaks or vaccination, testing or quarantine requirements.
Online travel shopping company Expedia Group Thursday launched COVID-19 Travel Advisor, an online tool that provides information about current travel restrictions to potential and existing customers across seven of the company’s brands.
“Right now, many people are considering booking trips as the Covid-19 vaccine rollout continues, but at the same time, they’re inundated with conflicting information about where and how they can safely travel,” said Stacey Symonds, senior director of experience insights at Expedia Group, in a statement.
“It can prove challenging to find these details from a reliable source, so we teamed up with Sherpa to seamlessly integrate a solution into our apps, websites, and customer communications,” she added. “Our goal is to reduce friction for travelers during a time when they need extra support and empower them to make responsible decisions.”
Expedia Group is partnering with Sherpa, a global provider of travel identification requirements for the travel industry, to offer the tool. Sherpa’s technology has also been deployed in similar joint efforts with air carriers American Airlines and Caribbean Airlines, the OneWorld airline alliance and guided vacation company The Travel Corp.
“Travel is critical to our world economy and an important part of human connection,” said Max Tremaine, co-founder and CEO of Sherpa, in a statement. “Since the pandemic started, our focus has remained firmly on helping our travel partners restore consumer confidence and trust in travel.”
A pilot phase of COVID-19 Travel Advisor that began in late November attracted 1.6 million users, and in March alone Expedia Group registered 1.8 million visits to the tool across its brands, a 97% jump from February — signifying “many repeat uses as travelers plan various upcoming trips,” according to the company.
Online travel agencies like Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and other Expedia Group brands such as online vacation home rental site Vrbo are seeing a jump in business, with consumer trip planning online at such sites up nearly 25% compared to the pre-pandemic period, according to a recent Expedia Group Media Solutions study.
“At Vrbo, we’ve experienced record-breaking demand for vacation rentals in the first few months of the year, and we’re encouraged to see fellow Expedia Group brands on a path towards strong recovery,” Jeff Hurst, president of Vrbo and marketing co-lead at Expedia Group, told CNBC.com. “People are eager to safely reconnect with family, friends, and colleagues but navigating evolving travel restrictions can prove difficult.
“With the COVID-19 Travel Advisor, we’re breaking down that barrier, so travelers can easily access reliable information to unlock their next trip,” he added. “So far, we’ve seen success with this tool, and we continue to advance our technology to support the needs of travelers, hosts and industry partners.”