SAN FRANCISCO – Finding and booking a vacation can feel like a chore, but what if choosing your next travel package was almost as pleasurable as going on the trip? That’s what Expedia is aiming for with its new tablet app.
“We want to build an experience that provides a lot of utility, but travel is a sensual product,” said Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who unveiled the new Expedia app for iPad and Android tablets at an event in San Francisco tonight.
With the new apps, Bellevue-based Expedia is trying to reflect that fact by turning travel search into an enjoyable, lean-back-on-the-couch experience, without sacrificing utility.
Khosrowshahi said that the new app, which will be released this fall, has been designed from the ground up for tablet use, rather than just a scaled-up version of the company’s smartphone apps.
One of the key parts of the app is a set of collections that group different destinations together based on different characteristics like “cities that never sleep.” In the future, Expedia plans to display those categories on a more personalized basis, and maybe tie in the travel interests of celebrities or other people of interest.
Expedia sees a significant shift in the way that users search for travel with the rise of mobile, Khosrowshahi said. Rather than relying heavily on their computers, customers are now interested in a cross-device experience that remains consistent.
In addition, travelers are more receptive to getting push notifications about travel information and travel deals. The new tablet app is a move to take advantage of that trend.
It’s not Expedia’s first attempt to take advantage of mobile. Earlier this year, the company announced Scratchpad, a tool that tracks every search users perform on Expedia, and lets them review what it cost at the time and what it costs now. In addition, the company will notify users via email or push notification if the plans they have searched for in the past become cheaper.
Users of iPads and Android tablets will be able to get the app this fall. Expedia has an existing Windows tablet app (and one for Windows Phone), although there’s no word yet on plans to bring the new tablet experience to the Microsoft platform.