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Selene Brophy, Skift
December 6th, 2022 at 8:00 AM EST
In a switch-up on the role travel products play in creating stickiness for brands, JetBlue and Expedia are both focused on boosting customer loyalty — and while it might seem like their programs are competing, customers ultimately score value across their ecosystem.
The dynamics of ancillary travel product distribution for airlines is continuously changing. Brand loyal customers are the order of the day. Yet in symbiotic ecosystems where airlines use online travel giants like Expedia to tailor their travel packages, competition for loyal customers is unavoidable.
Julie Kyse, vice president of global air partnerships for Expedia Group and Andres Barry, president of JetBlue products joined Seth Borko, senior research analyst at Skift, to discussed the push and pull of distribution within the sector at the 2022 Skift Aviation Forum in Dallas-Fort Worth.
JetBlue remains intent on bolstering its direct connection to customers and extending its supplier partnerships, instead of just relying on Expedia for non-air supply to packages to sell to its customers.
Kyse acknowledged that there are customers who have a natural affinity for the airline, and stated that Expedia is able to add value to help grow direct loyalty, as JetBlue tailors its distribution model.
In the discussion, Barry outlined the importance of loyalty, using the value proposition of its Mosaic status as an example for its most invested customers to have access to “a mix of cash and points” when booking JetBlue travel products.
Kyse was candid about Expedia’s approach to credit cards and loyalty programs and whether it meant competition between the two.
“Last year we announced that we were going to create a unified loyalty program across all of our consumer brands. So that will give consumers the opportunity to earn rewards points if they’re buying a vacation rental on Vrbo or if they’re renting a car on Expedia, no matter what product they purchase from us,” Kyse said.
“They’re not competing because they’re complimentary. You can earn both. In fact, our current advertising campaign is all about earning your airline miles and your rewards points with Expedia brands.”
Watch their full on-stage interview as they unpack the dynamics of distribution and the ecosystem of loyalty programs or read the transcript below.
Seth Borko: Hello. Hello everybody. Welcome back. Hope you’ve enjoyed your break, and you’re ready for some good aviation distribution content that we’re going to be talking about today. We’re really lucky to be joined by Julie and Andres. Thank you both for being here.
Julie Kyse: Thanks for having us.
Andres Barry: Thank you for having us.
Borko: And I’ll just remind the audience that we can take some questions, so if you want to submit them in the app, if we have time, we’ll include them.
So, I want to just start with some baseline setting and we’ve got Julie from Expedia, we’ve got Andres from JetBlue, we’ve got a supplier and an OTA on the same panel. It’s very exciting.
Julie, you run air partnerships for Expedia, obviously super relevant for this audience. Tell us a little bit about that, set the baseline, what does that entail and what’s the partnership strategy at Expedia look like?
Kyse: Sure. I’m sure a lot of you think about Expedia as a business to consumer company, and we do operate many brands that serve consumers directly such as Expedia, Vrbo, hotels.com.
But we also have a really thriving business to business businesses. That’s a lot of business is in one sentence, but B2B enterprise where we provide our technology, our inventory, our services to others in the travel industry. So my team and I are responsible for having both sides of those relationships with our airline partners.
We work with JetBlue to distribute their products on our websites, and we also work with JetBlue to help power their website and their programs as well.
Borko: Yep. Okay. Excellent. And Andres, we’ll talk a little about you. So you head up JetBlue Travel Products, ancillaries are nothing new to the industry, but maybe travel products is a little different, little unique, what makes it special, not just plain, vanilla ancillaries?
Barry: Yeah, look, we saw an opportunity to essentially, engage more deeply with our customers. And for those of you who know where JetBlue flies, and the majority of our customers historically has been a fairly leisure-oriented network. And a lot of our customers going to the Caribbean, to Florida. So we see a big opportunity to serve up their entire trip.
And it’s a couple things. One is, the ability to give them value for money. The other thing is, we really take a lot of pride in the servicing. So we, like once customers trust us with their entire trip, whether it’s a vacation package, whether they’re adding car rental or whatever, we like to be there to service them.
And that was the genesis of JetBlue travel products, is how do we play a bigger role with these customers and be able to deliver on our service promise beyond just the flight.
Borko: And just to be clear, so travel products that JetBlue includes both the vacation packages, right? And the Paisly business?
Barry: Paisly and travel insurance. So really we sell all travel and flights is kind of the space that we play in. So car rentals, activities, et cetera.
Borko: Sure. I might want to do, I know we’re very much looking to move past Covid, but I think both of your businesses had some big changes during the pandemic in kind of re-gearing your strategy. Maybe this is a question for both of you. Maybe I’ll start with Julie and then move to you, Andres.
But how has your partnership strategy changed coming out of the pandemic?
Kyse: Well, I think that our partnership strategy is really tied to what our traveler strategy is. And so we are working with our partners to try to deliver the things that travelers are looking for now in this new changed environment.
And one of the biggest things is around flexibility. We are going to be releasing our traveler value index tomorrow, which is a survey that we did of about 11,000 travelers and travel industry professionals.
And what we find out is that 96% of travel industry organizations are now offering refundable options. 77% of them introduced new refundable or flexible options as a result of the pandemic. And so we’re working with our partners to ensure that we’re able to provide the right level of servicing to support that flexibility.
One of the things we had to do was invest in new capabilities to shop with credits. We have so many credits outstanding, since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve processed over a billion dollars in travel credits.
And so what we did was we invested in technology that allows a traveler to take that credit and shop in the path, in the core shopping path, and use that credit as if it was another form of payment, like a gift card or something like that, which is a very unique thing and it required a lot of engineering because that’s not the way credits work behind the scenes.
So, really trying to be responsive to those traveler needs and to work with our partners to make sure that the products that they’re putting out there are in fact, responsive to them.
Borko: So some new tech builds, some more emphasis on flexibility, on customer value. Andres, tell us about how is JetBlue travel products, you kind of almost really invested in it during the pandemic. Tell us about what happened there.
Barry: Yeah, we did. I mean things that we learned, one is service and flexibility matter a lot, and I think that should be…
Borko: Great when panelists agree. We love to see the flexibility agreement here.
Barry: On the service side. We’ve realized how much of a differentiator that can be, and it’s something that JetBlue as an airline, has always taken a lot of pride in. And when we started building, rebuilding, for example, a JetBlue Vacations business, we knew that we wanted to back it up with the same service.
And we’ve even done things like, we introduced our Insider Experience, which is we have boots on the ground, folks who actually greet Vacations customers at the airport, in destination, get them to their hotel and things like that, we’re probably going to do anyways, we’ve seen really resonates with customers.
And then on the flexibility, some of the places where we had to innovate, how do you get people comfortable traveling again? And we introduced the deposits program, just to see what the customer reaction should be.
And it’s been incredible. I mean, the number of customers who now come in and book with us because they don’t have to commit to the full amount up front and they can put a nominal deposit down and then come back and pay the rest later. We’ve seen that be incredibly successful too.
Borko: And I want to just dig a little bit into your travel products. It works particularly well because of the route network you have. You were telling me that JetBlue has started to build some of its own direct hotel connections in certain markets. Is that correct?
Barry: Yeah, so we do a mix. I mean, as Julie mentioned, we also distribute some of Expedia’s inventory, but we do have, for some of our top selling, most popular hotels that really resonate with our customers, we do have direct relationships. Now, this all shows up in the same website to the customer, but behind the scenes we’re sourcing inventory from a couple different places.
Borko: When you source it yourself, does that kind of make you like an OTA in the OTA business or, I don’t know?
Barry: In those instances, I mean, I think it’s fairly common and I think most any travel website you see will have distribution from a couple different sources. We do think that if we’re focused on what JetBlue customers care the most about, and our job is to just bring that to them and we’ll worry about the best ways to source it.
Borko: And you do partner with Expedia, right?
Borko: So Julie, talk to us about this B2B piece of the business, the Expedia partnerships business. How big is this opportunity in the grand scheme of Expedia?
Kyse: We think this is a huge opportunity for us and for the industry as a whole.
One of the things that we realized is that we are building out a ton of technology to power our business to consumer sites. At scale that is beyond what many other travel companies have the bandwidth to do, have the engineering resource to do, et cetera.
So we’re trying to think about how we can take that technology, empower others within the industry. Whether they’re very large companies like airlines, all the way down to a TikTok influencer who wants to start selling travel. How do we enable them to do that with the technology and services that our platform can provide?
Borko: And Expedia is launching this new open world, this is API, right?
Kyse: It’s not just API, it’s really about the platform as a whole and taking pieces of what we do every day in an eCommerce world and making them accessible to business partners throughout the ecosystem.
Borko: What, in long term, let’s think 10, 20 years down the line, what’s the bigger opportunity? Is it the non endemics, is it banks and influencers, or is it power in those airline partnerships and the JetBlue travel products of the world?
Kyse: I think that they’re all really tremendous opportunities.
Borko: They’re all great.
Kyse: For me, personally, I’m very focused on the airline side because that’s what my team does. Obviously there are 100s of airlines around the world and we would love to power all of them with our technology, our inventory and support.
So I think it’s a tremendous opportunity, but we’re not narrowing our focus to one segment or the other.
Borko: Got it. Yeah. So I wanted to talk a bit about, in this distribution mix, we have this customer acquisition piece where maybe you work with a distribution partner to acquire the company or maybe you acquire it directly.
There’s this perception that these travel packages, Andres, are just free upsells, there’s no acquisition cost. Is that true? Or do you have to pay to acquire customers?
Barry: I think it’s a mix. I mean, our focus really resonates the most with customers who know JetBlue and have some relationship.
Historically, we have seen, we’ve taken more of that model. And that’s part of what makes it appealing for us is, we’ve already invested in acquiring the customer once. We don’t have to necessarily do so second time.
And so we’ve invested a lot in just making the value proposition clear to customers as they’re booking a flight and say, hey, you know what, by the way, while you’re doing that, you may want to consider this alternative to make it easy.
But we’ve also started to see some success in investing in acquiring customers. And it’s still the same customer base in terms of other people who are familiar with JetBlue. But driving that awareness that we offer these products before they’re actually on our website, trying to buy flight has made a huge impact.
Borko: So you’re taking some marketing spend and instead of putting it behind the flight and then upselling them, you’re putting it behind the actual package.
Barry: Behind the package and they’re buying the flight as part of that as well.
Borko: And then for Julia, I wanted to talk to you, Expedia corporate, big Expedia, one of their huge cost is that sales and marketing spend. Is this partnership channel, is this a really, this is a cheap way to acquire customers for Expedia, because the airlines are doing some of the marketing for you?
Kyse: I don’t know if I would call it a cheap way to-
Borko: Okay. It’s not cheap.
Kyse: We make a lot of investments in the products and the services to make them relevant for our airline partners. And we work really closely with them to try to drive greater demand.
So if an airline thinks, hey, let’s put this in there and if you build it, they will come. It probably won’t. You need to make sure you’ve got the right placements, that its discoverability is easy on the website. We have a lot of expertise along those lines.
And so I don’t think it’s a cheap channel. I think it’s a channel that we’re really invested in helping our partners grow and taking our expertise, all of the stuff that we do well on our e-commerce site and helping them to grow their site as well.
Borko: So your expertise would extend actually to how to help them market an ancillary upsell package, not just straight, here’s some products, go figure it out. You would actually sit down and help them?
Kyse: Absolutely. That’s part of the services that we provide is giving them insight about what we’re seeing on our own sites, how customers are behaving, how travelers are choosing different products so that they can have the best outcomes, the best conversion as well.
Borko: I guess I don’t know the answer, but does it keep you up at night that it’s JetBlue’s customer, not Expedia’s customer? Isn’t the goal always to have a one-to-one relationship with the customer, or are you just happy to have that win?
Kyse: Well, like Andres said, there are customers that have a natural affinity for JetBlue, and we appreciate that JetBlue has that relationship with them and we want to help them to grow that relationship.
It’s up to us to build in a certain amount of stickiness in our own sites. And by investing in loyalty programs and things that drive people to continue to come to Expedia brands, that’s how we’ll do that.
But meanwhile, there are going to be customers who have a natural affinity for airline sites and we also see there’s value in helping them in that sphere as well.
Borko: And you mentioned loyalty, so I’d love to grab onto that as a bit of a rough segue, but I want to talk to you both about loyalty. We’re having a conversation about distribution, it’s not complete without mentioning loyalty. So Andres, tell us about the JetBlue loyalty program. How does the loyalty program factor into the travel products?
Barry: Yeah, for sure. It’s a big engine and it’s a big part of this. And we see the customers who end up booking more than their flight with us are disproportionately members of the loyalty program. They’re disproportionately Mosaics, they’re disproportionately members of the loyalty program who have our credit card.
And we’ve made a lot of investments, partly in awareness, just can understand the benefits. But for example, the JetBlue Card, the Plus card that has an annual fee, if you actually use it to buy vacation package through us, we will actually give you the annual fee back as a statement credit. And so that’s a big value proposition for our most invested loyal customers right there.
Similarly, I think we’re pretty unique in the sense that any travel that you buy from us starts helping you qualify towards Mosaic status. And that’s something that we’re investigating, you’ll be hearing a lot more about next year. And so those are the kinds of places where, to Julie’s point, there’s a segment of customers who are just very invested in JetBlue, who are really committed to loyalty program, who have the credit card. And so extending that to broader travel has been a big part of this. And even allowing them to use their points now to book broader Travel, et cetera.
Borko: And so I was going to ask you, you can use a point redemption to book the travel product as well?
Barry: Yes. Yeah. And we’ve recently launched it as a mix of cash and points. So you can choose how many points you use and you’re essentially taking dollars off the vacation package, et cetera.
Borko: Would it be fair to say that the travel product then is a way to make the loyalty program stickier? It’s kind of symbiotic.
Barry: We definitely see it as symbiotic. I think that’s the perfect term. And I work, the loyalty team and my team work very, very closely together because if we can make the loyalty program relevant in more places that makes the loyalty program better.
The stronger the loyalty program is, the more likely it is that our offerings are going to be relevant. And particularly, with the kind of customers who are most engaged with it and the customers who have the credit card, we see tremendous affinity.
Borko: So Julie, for years I feel like suppliers have been using loyalty as a means to say, oh, don’t shop around on price, just come, stay loyal to us. Expedia was the clearinghouse, the shopping center. But you’re now also trying to get into the loyalty game as well. Can you talk to us a little bit about how Expedia is going to use loyalty as part of its customer strategy?
Kyse: Yeah. Last year we announced that we were going to create a unified loyalty program across all of our consumer brands. So that will give consumers the opportunity to earn rewards points if they’re buying a vacation rental on Vrbo or if they’re renting a car on Expedia, no matter what product they purchase from us. That’s going to give them a lot more opportunities to earn. Now I don’t think that in the airline space that this is at all, it’s actually very complimentary to what the airlines are doing.
Borko: So you preempted my question. I was going to say, how do we think about two competing loyalty plans?
Kyse: They’re not competing because they’re complimentary. You can earn both. In fact, our current advertising campaign is all about earning your airline miles and your rewards points with Expedia brands.
And so what that does, is it gives people an impetus to join their loyalty program because it reminds them, oh wait a minute, I might be leaving something on the table if I’m not part of Mosaic, or I’m not part of Advantage, or whatever program is applicable.
So we think that it’s actually really complimentary and will drive loyalty enrollments and engagement on both sides.
The other thing that’s beneficial to airlines is because we work with so many of them to power elements of their loyalty program, redemption for hotel and car, all of the investments that we make in our platform will be things that will then be available to our airline partners to drive further retailing of those ancillary products to their loyalty members.
So it’s a pretty beneficial ecosystem that the loyalty program creates.
Borko: Got it. I think it’s an exciting development. And for what it’s worth, and one of the things I want to talk about is, some of the credit card companies kind of advertise this. If you book travel with Chase, you can still earn your loyalty points, for instance. So I wanted to talk to you both about how credit cards come into this distribution mix. Are you powering a lot of bank connections and credit card connections, Julie?
Kyse: We are. We do, the template technology that I mentioned, we power many banks across the US and Canada.
Borko: How do you think that they’re, is it changing the landscape? Is this, to me, I mean maybe I’m wrong. I feel like the Amexes and the Chases and the Capital Ones of the world have this huge white label opportunity or I don’t know, it feels like everyone wants to get into the travel game these days.
Kyse: I think it is. And that’s why we’re empowering them through that kind of technology. Yeah.
Borko: And influencers, is that coming next?
Kyse: Influencers definitely. There are definitely opportunities. There’s a lot of people who want to get into travel, God help them, everybody wants to get into travel. And so we’re going to be there to provide them with technology and services that will be able to power small businesses, medium businesses and large businesses.
Borko: So like TikToker, powered by Expedia, they’re TikToking all over the world and they’re going to book their flights from Expedia?
Kyse: Yeah, I mean they’re out there in Dubai showing you how great it is. Why don’t you go to Dubai? Help them to sell that product and to get their followers to enjoy the joy of travel.
Borko: That’s a pretty exciting prospect to me. It’s kind of cool.
Kyse: It democratizes it, I think.
Borko: Yeah, so more and more people can be in the business of selling travel, and Expedia, gets a piece of it, gets to help play that.
Let’s talk about flexibility, the customer experience, customer service and maybe customer service recoveries. Andres, you were telling me in some of our prep calls that customer service and response to customers is core fundamental to how you build your travel products business.
How are you doing that?
Barry: Yeah, I mean the first piece is being intentional about it. I mean, we spent a lot of time thinking about how do we create a better customer experience? I mean, if you think about what JetBlue did for airlines, it really stood out because it was a better product with better service and better value for money. I mean, you think about the leg room, the TVs, the Fly-Fi, the mint product, on and on and on.
It’s always been about innovating and creating better customer experiences. And if you do that, there’s a belief that customers will come, they’ll purchase your product and off we go.
So that’s been front and center for us. When we built the, relaunched the JetBlue Vacations Business in 2020, we’re very intentional about that. And that’s where again, we created the on the ground insider experience. We created for our most popular hotels, we have this VIP Perks. It’s a very important perks program, which is about either getting the spot credits or something unique that they only can get through us.
And then on the customer service side, I mean we invest a lot in on the human side still. I mean it’s, believe it or not, still 30, 40% of our vacation packages are sold on the phone because somebody’s about to spend a lot of money and they want to know that the other person on the other end is helping them verify this. And so we invest in sending all of our travel experts, we call them travel… Because we invest in sending them all out to visit destinations so they know the hotel. So they have firsthand knowledge. We invest in answering the phone quickly. I start getting nervous when our queue times get over two or three minutes. I want that when people need us, we can answer the phone.
And then some of it is an expectation. Things don’t always go according to plan in travel and it’s not something that we want to lead with. But we do take a serious responsibility of if somebody’s in the middle of a trip and things don’t quite go according to plan, we’re not shy about investing and making them whole in some way.
Borko: Got it. And that could be monetary or another vacation or hotel or package stuff? Do you find, I mean, just ask a direct question. Is it easier to do that when you have direct relationships or do you find you’re able to make them whole, even when you’re working with partnerships?
Barry: Yeah, I mean, our approach is generally, we have the customer has purchased this from us and we need to make them whole. And then if, on the back end, we have to fix something with a partner, that’s our responsibility.
And we tend to have partners who are very good to work with. You talked about things that changed from Covid, we’re very selective with our partners on the service side. And there are, for some of the hotels we work with directly, if there’s repeated bad experiences, we stop offering that to customers.
Certainly Julie knows, that when we sell something jointly or we sell some of their inventory, she knows how much I care about the fact that we can support it on the back end. And so it is, it’s something I think anybody who works with us knows that it’s a priority for us.
Borko: Julie, maybe that’s a great segue to talk about, talk to us about the customer service side of things. Things don’t always go to plan, when you’re powering a plan like that, how are you able to help with a recovery, or is it the partner airlines that do it? How does that play out?
Kyse: So with our business to business partners, we invest a lot in our customer service tools. It’s a big part of it. There’s an expectation that we’re going to be able to support the products that our partners are selling on our behalf.
And one of the things we’ve invested a lot in, is self-service tools. Certainly we’ve seen a tremendous take up of self-service tools. We’ve invested in virtual agents and that sort of thing.
And for one of our partners where we power car, we’ve seen tremendous NPS results from customers who use that technology. Many customers want to use a call center to buy a package that’s expensive, but for small changes and that sort of thing, they’re actually quite happy to not talk to anybody at all. And so if you can make that experience pleasurable and effective and quick, they’re going to love that. And so we’ve invested a lot in that technology.
Borko: Yeah, a little free market research. I’m a millennial. I hate picking up the phone. So I love when I can just do on my own. Is that a big, I guess that’s a big differentiator for you then? You don’t provide those kind of tech tools. Expedia sort of lean into the tech side of its business?
Kyse: Yeah, I mean we do, we also provide the call center tools and the agent support that that’s needed as well. So we will not hesitate if the customer has a need that cannot be met through a virtual agent, we will have a live agent there to help them. And we’ve invested a lot in our agent support over the course of the last few years. The pandemic was incredibly disruptive to the operation.
We had millions of flights cancel all at once, learned some hard lessons through that and made some investments that I think, have made that process a lot easier.
Borko: And can I ask you about that? You mentioned that the traveler index survey. Could you give us a little more about the results from that? What do you think customers really want in today’s travel environment?
Kyse: Well, so we are seeing that there’s a greater price sensitivity, which is not to be confused with, they only want low prices. I think there’s a fair understanding that there’s not a lot of low prices out there. What customers want, is to make sure that they’re getting value for that money.
So if they’re going to pay a high price, they better get what they think they paid for. They better get it to a very good quality, that’s the expectation from travelers. And so that’s something that we hold our partners accountable to. We work with our hotel partners to rate them based on their performance. Do they have a lot of relocations? Do they have the right cleanliness?
That affects the sort, that affects how they show up on our site. So making sure that suppliers are actually delivering to those standards is critically important.
Borko: Yeah, that’s wonderful. Andres, I wanted to ask you a question about maybe the financials of your business. I’ve noticed you were on the 3Q, JetBlue earnings call. There’s a lot of investors on there. Your business made a hundred million in EBITDA, EBIT, sorry. And you didn’t really get a lot of questions. Why not? Why isn’t the street asking more about travel products?
Barry: Yeah, that’s probably a better question for investors than for me. Look, we always saw an opportunity here and these folks are already on our planes. The customers are already on our planes. They’re going to purchase additional travel. And we think with the right partnerships we can generate some financial benefit for JetBlue as well. And to your point, when we set out, we said, hey, we think this could be roughly a hundred million of profit opportunity. I didn’t expect that there would be a global pandemic between when we started, and when we got there.
Kyse: You didn’t plan for that?
Barry: But we’re well on track. And I think now we’re trying to say, okay, maybe we weren’t ambitious enough and how much bigger can it be? Because it’s still, as well as things are going, it’s still low single digits, the percent of customers are booking broader travel with us. And if we could get that to mid single digits or high single digits, it could be transformative for JetBlue.
Borko: I wanted to go to an audience question we have. It’s about, I’m going to ask you for both of you. It’s about leisure travel and business travel. So has the boom in leisure travel benefited from the decline of business travel and has more inventory helped?
So I guess, the question is about the balance of leisure versus business. JetBlue, you’re a very leisure focused product. So does it help that there’s fewer business travelers or hurt, or what?
Barry: I mean, I think it certainly helps. I mean, leisure travel has come back this year. I mean, roaring back and I think we’ve seen it. We’ve all experienced it. So it’s been good. I think what you’ve seen, airlines can pretty quickly, relatively quickly pivot where they point their assets. And so I do think that the market tends to normalize in the sense that maybe suddenly flying 12 a day in a business market stops making sense. And the whole industry, I mean, if anybody’s flown through an airport in Florida in the last 12 months, you realize there’s a lot more planes coming in than there used to be. And so for sure, I think everybody’s been riding that.
I think the tricky part though, is the lodging side of things is not as nimble. You can’t just pick up a hotel and say, okay, this used to be a hotel in the business district in Dallas and now it’s a resort in Aruba. And so that’s probably a little bit of limitations, how much supply can you create?
But for sure, we’ve seen the shift is very real and it’s been a big part of our growth this year.
Borko: And Julie, we were joking earlier about too many businesses, but business travel from the B2B perspective. Is the B2B, is the partnership business mostly, is it most attractive to leisure travelers or do you see Expedia get a lot of business travel?
Kyse: We power a number of TMCs as well as leisure players. I think that, but earlier you presented the trends on, I don’t like the word bleasure, some people use it, but it’s that combination of business, leisure. And I know from personal experience, that has been a big part of my travel patterns in this last year and many of the people we see.
So we believe that there’s a lot of that laptop luggers and leisure patterns that’s happening. And so business travel is coming back. It’s just coming back in a slightly different form is my view.
Barry: So is it maybe people, a leisure traveler that wouldn’t rent a car on a business trip, who needs now a car rental from their airline? Is that the opportunity or is that a?
Kyse: Very potentially, yeah.
Borko: Okay. I wanted to double back to that. This is kind of out there question. Double back to that loyalty question. I’m really into the credit card thing. Could Expedia launch a credit card? We’ve got a Mosaic credit card, can we get an Expedia loyalty credit card, earn loyalty points?
Kyse: Maybe? I’m not here to make any announcements.
Borko: Okay. And Andres, I wanted to ask you a bit about Paisly, which is your other travel product. And I believe you have a strong relationship with Expedia on that. How is Paisly different from the traditional vacation packages?
Barry: So what we found is the term vacation packages, they way they’re sold actually as a connotation with customers. And so they’re very popular. If you look at JetBlue, where we fly, I mean places like Aruba, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, it is not uncommon for 20, 25% of customers on that plane to book the whole vacation package through us. And they tend to be associated with all-inclusives, and they like the ride to the airport. We found it very, very difficult to get the customer going for a weekend trip to Boston to also consider the vacation packages.
Borko: The beaches are just not as warm.
Barry: Yeah, exactly. It just didn’t resonate. And I think what we observed is, the way that most airlines operate is, they’ll have a series of separate websites for like, if you want a car rental, they’ll go here. If you want a hotel, go here. If you want a vacation rental, go here. If you want activities, go here. And they’re loosely affiliated back to the airline. But in fact, and we used to do this, we had no visibility into what our own customers were buying on these sites. And so with Paisly, we’ve done is we’ve built a site that actually allows customers, for those types of trips to, it’s a completely different shopping process, different mentality. We’ve built a tailor site for them where they can actually, quite easily take the information from their flight. And we use that to serve them up relevant product across everything else.
What we like about it is, we can also now service those customers. And yes, Expedia is one of the sources for some of the lodging that we offer, but again, we’re the ones who service the customer. And we’ve seen a lot of success so far. We think customers are liking the, it’s always just one click away. They can call us and it’s an area that we see tremendous potential because most of our network is not to places that vacation packages are relevant.
Borko: And I take it you don’t see that as a competitive threat, Julie, your love powering a platform like that?
Kyse: It’s an opportunity and it shows the flexibility of how we work with partners. In this case, Andres, they want to handle the servicing, they want to have that ownership and that works well. We have technology to support that. There are other partners who prefer to have us take care of that and who prefer to have us really run that website for them. We’ll do that too. So that’s the nice thing. We can flex and provide the product whichever way the airline partner wants.
Borko: And I wanted to give the last word to you, Julie. What are you most excited about in the air partnership space? What gets you excited?
Kyse: I’m just excited to see everybody again, honestly, I’ve been traveling like a mad lady. I’m actually, now I’m looking forward to maybe taking a little break. But it’s been so great to be out there with partners and to see everybody in three dimensions again.
Borko: Yeah, it is funny how much, seeing someone in, from the side or in three dimensions changes.
Kyse: Well it just changes your ability to do business too. When you can see people and you have a trusting relationship. When you see people in person, it’s different than Zoom. So we got to get on the road.
Borko: Couldn’t agree more. We’ll leave on that wonderful note. Thank you both so much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
Kyse: Thank you.
Barry: Thank you.
Selene Brophy, Skift
December 6th, 2022 at 8:00 AM EST
Tags: expedia, jetblue airways, saf2022
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