We’ve had a few people ask us what we think the online trends will be for travel bloggers in 2012 and our reply has pretty much been the same all around, It’s going to be exciting.

If our recent trip to Seattle is any indication, the future of travel blogging is looking bright.

expedia-head-office

At the Expedia Head Office

Just before the holidays, we were invited to meet the Expedia executives at their head office in Seattle to talk about the future of travel and to listen to their big ideas for the future. Expedia Blogger Day is the brainchild of Expedia PR gal Sarah Keeling. Joining her and the rest of the Expedia heavyweights for a delicious mexican feast at Barrio restaurant downtown Seattle, we enjoyed conversations with Expedia VP and General Manager Joe Megibow, VP of Brand Marketing Paul Leonard, Director of Marketing Jeremy Xavier and many more.

One thing we noticed during lunch was that the people who work for Expedia are excited about travel and they are excited about the company they work for. We were impressed to see that they truly wanted to talk to us about what we are all about and what our ideas are about the online business of travel.

lunch with expedia seattle

Social Media Sharing at Lunch

Expedia is ready to work with Bloggers and they want to discuss ideas and options with us. They want to connect with their clients in a more personal way and what better way to do that than to work with people like us who are in direct contact with our readers.

Expedia Headquarters

After lunch, we moved onto the Expedia Headquarters where we talked with Expedia President, Scott Durschlag.

Instantly, I knew I liked this guy.

Having the same beliefs that we do about travel, he commented that “Travel is Transformational.” I couldn’t agree more. When someone experiences a different culture, event or witnesses something spectacular, it can change a life. It can give you a different outlook on how you view the world and it can inspire you to create a more fulfilling existence.

expedia president

Expedia president, Scott Durchslag

Durschlag clearly believes this as well. He understands that the most precious thing in life is time and as he puts it, time on vacation is even more important. So Expedia is working to make the entire vacation experience painless and easy.

They are working to make Expedia.ca a one stop shop for people planning their precious vacations and their goal is to give their clients the best local experience when working with Expedia.

So Where do travel Blogggers fit in? 

The skies the limit.

More and more companies want to humanize their brand and connect with their customers on a more personal level. Travel Bloggers give an alternative to an advertisement or banner ad. We can explain and share our experiences first hand with our readers.

expedia-travel-bloggers-day

A person like President Scott Durschlag isn’t just a rich suit in a high office tower. Through us you get to know the man behind the corporation.  He’s a guy that backpacked around the world and once tried to climb Mount Everest on the cheap. We talked to him about his time in Tibet when he hired a couple of Sherpas on the spot to help him climb the world’s highest mountain. Did he make it? No way, but he has an awesome story to tell and gained my respect and admiration for giving it a good shot. And I loved that he travelled on a budget. He’s a guy that journeyed overland through Africa and has a zest for life and a love for travel. Like all of the Expedia executives we met, he’s a regular guy who’s easy to talk to. And that’s the type of stuff we like to share – The story and the inspiration.

“Travel is Transformational”

People who work at Expedia have a passion for travel and that is exactly the type of company we want to work with. As a matter a fact, Expedia not only encourages their employees to take holidays, they are rewarded when they travel by receiving reimbursements for their leisure travel each year. As Scott Durchslag said, a vacation encourages productivity. It’s important.

 

We were very impressed with their openness and excitement about working with travel bloggers in the future.  As VP Joe Megabow said, “working with bloggers is a proven business plan.” Other industries have already done it with great success. It’s little risk for Expedia to work with us because the plan is already laid out. Sports, Tech, Entertainment, Fashion….these industries have already embraced the influence of the blogger and we think 2012 will be the year of the travel blogger.

We were honoured to be invited alongside some other really cool travel bloggers and we all got to know each other during a Seattle Seahawks game from a private suite in the NFL’s loudest stadium.

Expedia-travel-bloggers-day-1

Getting to know Johhny Jett, Kim of Galavanting & Chris J Faust of C Around the World at the Seahawks

It was a whirlwind two days in Seattle, but we had an amazing time and are excited to see what Expedia has in store.

Our trip to Seattle was courtesy of Expedia.com and we wanted to give a shout out to the beautiful boutique hotel that we stayed at, Hotel 1000 right in the heart of downtown.

To see more on Expedia and travel blogging, check out our fellow attendees of Expedia Blogger Day 2011. Here’s to an exciting

Airfare WatchdogBloomberg Business WeekChris Around the WorldGalavating
GeekWire.comJohnny JetOtts WorldSocial Media LabsStuck at the Airport,
The Traveling Philosopher, Travel Junkie Julia, Travelllll.com, What a Trip

Thanks to Expedia Canada for sponsoring our trip to Seattle to meet our American friends.

 

 

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32 Comments

    1. debndave Post author

      That’s very exciting Anthony, I can’t wait to see what you have brewing in Australia. We often see great things coming out of there. It is exciting to see the entire world embracing new media.

    1. debndave Post author

      I know eh. When he first talked about climbing Everest I assumed he was on an expedition of some kind, but once he told us the story, I was like, “now that’s my kind of traveler.” And that’s the way I want the head of a travel company to travel. I am all for traveling in luxury, but it’s great to see someone mixing it up and backpacking, roughing it and enjoying the finer things in life. Here’s to a great 2012.

  1. Mike Esposito

    Thanks for sharing this story. I’ll have to follow Expedia’s initiative closely to see how it develops throughout the year. It’s definitely a plus that the CEO is passionate about what he does!

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Mike, yes Expedia certainly made a splash with their Travel Blogger day in December. It seems that their on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Between them and Intrepid Travel, they are companies that are totally leading the way and taking the initiative to do more utilizing the influence of bloggers.

  2. Kristen

    I’ve been reading a lot about how 2012 is the year when travel bloggers and industry professionals will partner together on a whole new level. It’s all very exciting. Looks like you had a great time in Seattle.

    1. debndave Post author

      Hi Kristen, We did have a great time in Seattle. It was our first time in the city and lucky for us, we had sunny weather. That is one town where there is a lot going on in business and play.

    2. debndave Post author

      Hi Kristen, we did have a great time in Seattle, it was super to meet so many great fellow bloggers and all the people at Expedia. They were very open, friendly and informative.

  3. Red Hunt

    By all accounts this event seemed to hold a lot of promise for great things to come between Expedia and the online travel community. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

    1. debndave Post author

      Thanks Red, it is a ground breaking event indeed. For a company to invite people simply to talk and open the door is a huge step. We’re looking forward to seeing what is in store for 2012 as well.

  4. Laura

    What a neat event! I keep seeing Expedia all over the place on social media now and they are really down to earth and approachable. Not the vibe I would have expected, given the size of their company, so it’s nice to see. I’m so glad you shared the story about their president. It really puts a face behind the corporation. The seem to be doing it right!

    1. debndave Post author

      That is a great point Laura, they are down to earth and approachable. I’ve seen Sarah leave comments on blogs with her twitter handle letting people know to send her a tweet to chat. Now that is awesome. It is nice to see a large company taking a down to earth approach. that was definitely a moment that stood out for us, when we chatted with Scott, he is a super nice guy. It’s the way we feel about the CEO’s and company heads we have met from Intrepid Travel and American Express. It’s amazing.

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  6. Michele Peterson

    Looks like a blast…I’m also a fan of Expedia and have booked several nights in Guatemala City through them at some quite low rates. Never had a problem. (You’re getting quite a toque collection, Deb)

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  8. Wendy Pearson

    Sounds like a great event! Glad to hear Corporate America is “getting it” when it comes to the power of the third party endorsement. Corporate marketers no longer own the message, the “people” do.

  9. planeters

    I bet that was a very interesting journey you guys had. I hope to attend one of those one day. Even without all the hype other larger cities have, Seattle looks a nice place to visit. I just became a follower of this blog and love it!

  10. Tony James Slater

    Well, it makes me want to work for Expedia!
    The only thing that worries me though, about this union between travel bloggers and big travel companies, is that the reason we all love travel blogging is they are NOT adverts. We’ve all read brochures on far-flung and exciting locations, full of cleverly written sales pieces to make us desire their destinations even more – but that’s what they are, nice portions of marketing.
    Travel bloggers go and see things their own way, warts-and-all, and are as likely to give a place a thumbs-down as a thumbs-up.
    Will this objectivity remain? (I’m talking speculatively here, not trying to rabble-rouse!)
    By way of an example, I noticed a lot of travel bloggers were recently invited to Jordan, as part of a deal with their tourism board.
    They all came back ecstatic, and there was a flurry of articles and cross-promtion on Twitter. Not one of them had a bad thing to say, which is understandable when they had an all-expenses paid luxury trip organised by the government!
    I was in Jordan at around the same time and had more of a mixed bag experience. Not one of those bloggers made mention of the ridiculously exorbitant cost of entry fees in Jordan (Petra alone is £50, or CAN$80 per person for one day!).
    One of the bloggers even did an article on the amazing diversity of local cuisine, obviously without having sampled any of them (which I did, to my regret on at least one occasion!).
    I’m a bit worried that some of the top bloggers will effectively be ‘bought off’ by the top travel companies and tourism departments of various countries, and will lose their objectivity in the process.
    Anyway, rant over! Hope that didn’t seem too personal, it was just a shadowy concern I have creeping around the back of my mind, not some prophecy of impending doom for the blogging community!
    Best wishes in Antarctica!
    Tony

    1. debndave Post author

      I think that is why companies like working with travel bloggers. We aren’t going to write advertisements. If we change the way we write just to suit the company our readers will stop coming. Companies are looking for different ways to connect with their readers and by working with travel bloggers they can get an authentic voice rather than a paid advertisement.
      If you read our posts on Jordan, we wrote two negative posts actually. One about the Ma’in Hot Springs and one about the Holiday Inn on the Dead Sea. We did love Jordan, and the tourism board understood that we needed to be authentic for our readers to be as excited about our time there. They raised their concerns about our posts, but we explained to them that we have to remain true and when we write negative about something during a sponsored trip, it makes the positive that much more authentic.We also tweeted and shared our negative thoughts about the Crown Plaza Hotel that we stayed at in Petra and Ammaan. We would never give up our integrity to please a tourism board. However, we have been very lucky with most trips because they have been amazing. The reason travel bloggers raved about Jordan is because it is a truly an extraordinary travel destination.
      You raise a legitimate concern though and I think that bloggers will keep more integrity than other media outlets because we have our readers to answer to. If they start thinking everything that we write about is an advertisement, they will stop coming and that will make the blog stop working. Hopefully most people will feel the same way that we do.
      Cheers

  11. Hanna

    That is great news that travel blogging will be helping big brands to get more personal relationship and better understanding of its customers.

    To Planeters
    I believe that the objectivity will remain in travel blogging. It is an essential part of it. In most part that is actually why people are reading them.

    1. debndave Post author

      Well said Hanna. We agree, we only have our readers to answer to and if we start writing fluff pieces they will stop coming. We don’t want that, we want to remain objective and talk about our experiences traveling. Luckily we chose a business that we love and is mostly always a positive experience. Travel for the most part is fun, so it is rare that we have any complaints. However, you will hear them when we have them. We’ve always been that way and we’re too set in our ways to change for anyone. :)

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