“2022 will be the best year for Expedia in the Latin American market,” says Freddy Rodriguez.

Freddy Dominguez, Expedia Group Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, spoke about the group's plans to enter the Latin American and Brazilian market in 2022.

Freddy Dominguez, Expedia Group Vice President for Latin America and the Caribbean, spoke about the group’s plans to enter the Latin American and Brazilian market in 2022.

LAS VEGAS (Nevada) – This year, Expedia is introducing a range of technology and operational innovations to improve the experience for travelers and service providers. And one of the priorities of the world’s largest travel sales group is to expand its presence in the Latin American market. Expedia plans to have the best year in Latin America in 2022.

Em M&E Exclusive Interview – who participated in Explore 22, Expedia Group’s annual conference in Las Vegas, Freddy Dominguez, Vice President of LATAM & Caribe at Expedia Group, spoke about the importance of the Latin American market, what these innovations mean for these destinations, and the group’s presence in Brazil.

“We have been in this market since 2005 and we hope that 2022 will be our best year in Latin America. Expedia is an American company and the first place we started after the US was in Mexico, so we’ve been in that market for a while now. And after all these years, we are betting that 2022 will be the best year for us,” explained Freddy Dominguez, vice president of Latin America and the Caribbean at Expedia Group.

“Betting that 2022 will be our best year”

According to the vice president, the Latin American market is important to Expedia, and Expedia is important to the Latin American market. “In the Caribbean we have a very strong presence across all of our brands but as we move south we are losing some of that visibility and the main reason for that is our main market is the US. This is not only a brand awareness issue, but also an experience that South Americans must have in order to come to the United States. South America is not well connected to the US. We don’t have enough local airlines and we don’t have affordable products for local people.”

Freddie also added that what has been seen in Brazil, Colombia and Chile is basically that the tourism industry in these destinations is mostly domestic and it is difficult to enter these places as there is very interesting competition with local travel companies. .

“For the Latin American market, we have decided to make as much money as we can where we can – as we have had great success in North America and elsewhere, we will continue to support shipments, but we understand that there will be places where our brands will not be so strong, and the smartest strategy would be to partner with local companies,” Dominguez said.

The head believes that the Latin American market is divided into two eras: before and after the coronavirus. “Before Covid, Asian destinations largely determined the growth in tourism. In 2021, the second most visited country in the world was Mexico, which was previously not even among the top five destinations in the world. And I think some of them should stay. People discovered this direction for the first time – mainly for the inhabitants of North America, and they liked it. I believe the Latin American market will share this distribution in tourism growth as a result of the pandemic.”

Expedia data shows that about 80% of people plan their next trip with a focus on experience, relaxation and tourism. “It’s not surprising, after nearly three years of being cooped up at home, people no longer want to travel to explore and discover museums in Berlin – no offense to the European market – but people do want to go to holiday destinations and Latin America is full of in this segment. I believe that in the future we will perform well,” Freddie analyzed.

Plans to expand presence in Brazil

Even though Expedia is the world’s largest tourism and travel group, its presence in the country is still “weakened”. With more potential, the power of the group eventually declines due to people not associating the brand with the group.

Also in January of this year, Expedia TAAP (an affiliate program of Expedia Travel Agent) stopped accepting payments in real for international bookings. According to Freddie, “It doesn’t help, but we had to do something that we didn’t like. Historically, our business in Brazil has been more domestic, so this decision has not affected us as aggressively, and the main reason we had to do this is because of the IRRF,” he said.

When asked by M&E about plans to increase the presence in the country and increase brand awareness, Freddie replied that, in his opinion, the work will be carried out in two parts: with the unification of the loyalty program and the emphasis on partnerships with companies that already play a leading role in Brazil and intend to enter the tourism segment.

“There is a whole problem with our brand umbrella. We’re working hard to make Hotels.com a strong brand, for example, but we’re not connected to our entire brand chain. We are starting to do this with a loyalty program that will bring these brands together,” he said.

“One of the reasons why Hotels.com is so strong in Brazil is because of its ongoing loyalty program. This is easy to understand. 10 nights, 11 free. We have a good presence with this brand in Brazil, but we are not as strong as Expedia in Brazil. Now imagine a unique loyalty program across all of our brands where travelers can redeem Points earned on Hotels.com for points on Expedia tickets. It helps us,” Dominguez explained.

Another strategy of the company is strategic alliances with companies that want to enter the tourism market.

“There are some interesting local market companies in Brazil that are still not selling in the tourism segment, I’m talking about Rappi, Uber Eats, Ifood. All of these platforms are ultimately looking for ways to get into tourism, and when they do, they will need long-term partners. They don’t build the inventory that we spent 25 years building. Theoretically, from our open technology – announced during the convention – we will reach partnerships and affiliation agreements so that people can consume rides through their favorite and already loyal brands, and we will be a platform that empowers and promotes this,” he concluded.

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