Last week I had the opportunity to attend an event marking the 15th anniversary of Expedia.ca. As the country's most-visited full-service online travel provider, Expedia.ca is committed to helping Canadians plan and purchase travel including hotels, flights, rental cars and activities. The company has grown rapidly over the last 10 years and now has 400+ airline partners, 365,000 hotels, 7.5 million verified reviews on the site and 2 billion in annual gross bookings. Having reached this milestone, what is Expedia.ca planning to do to celebrate?
Expedia+ Loyalty Program
Did you know that Expedia.ca has a loyalty program? I didn't! Research showed that almost 7 out of 10 Canadians belonged to various travel loyalty programs and that 87% agree that loyalty programs are worthwhile and provide true value. This was enough to convince Expedia.ca that a loyalty program to help customers maximize their travel dollars would be well-received and Expedia+ was launched in January 2015 as part of the company's 15th anniversary celebrations. Expedia+ will not be tied to a single hotel or airline so members will be able to earn points when booking any of the 400+ airlines or 365,000 hotels worldwide along with activities, select vacation packages and car rentals on Expedia.ca. There will also be no blackouts for redeeming points, an extended hotel price guarantee program, and members will have the ability to earn additional points when using the Expedia.ca mobile app. The program has a three-tiered earning structure (blue+, silver+ and gold+) and the free membership automatically gives members blue+ status to start. It sounds like a great program for maximizing loyalty points and applying them toward future travel.
Since 2003 Expedia.ca has been conducting an annual Vacation Deprivation Study to determine why Canadians aren't taking all of the vacation days to which they are entitled. The studies have shown that Canadians take on average 15.5 vacation days a year whereas Europeans take 30 days. Since that first survey, Canadians have left 350 million vacation days on the table resulting in $53 billion (CDN) in wages handed back to employers. It's not surprising then to learn that more than 53% of Canadians consider themselves vacation-deprived.
The reasons cited for leaving the vacation days on the table tend to include work schedules, saving for other obligations and personal and family schedules. The survey also found that more than 1 million Canadians haven't taken a vacation in 15 years and more than 1.4 million Canadians have not been on a vacation in their lifetime! As part of their 15th anniversary celebration, Expedia.ca decided to conduct a search for some of the most vacation-deprived Canadians and surprise three pairs of them with an all-expense paid vacation to countries whose citizens lead the way in using up their vacation days - France, Spain and Denmark - in order to show them what they have been missing out on by not taking vacations.
One of the pairs that received the surprise vacation was Luiza and Alicia from Markham, Ontario. Luiza immigrated to Canada from Romania as a single mom and has been working hard ever since as a self-employed business woman to provide for herself and her daughter. She has been working so hard though that taking a vacation was always low on her list of priorities and simply never happened. If you have a tendency (as I do) to get teary then you might want to have a tissue handy before watching the video about this mom and daughter trip to Spain courtesy of Expedia.ca. As it happened I was sitting next to Luiza and Alicia at the event in Toronto and was able to have a chat with these two lovely ladies about their trip to the Mediterranean island of Majorca. The pair had an amazing time relaxing and sightseeing in Spain and returned to Canada refreshed and convinced of the importance of making travel a priority in their lives. They won't be waiting another 15 years to take a vacation!
Anniversary Sale and Giveaway
The 15th anniversary celebration also includes one of the biggest sales in years and an opportunity for Expedia.ca customers to win one of 15 vacations in celebration of this milestone. More information can be found online at Expedia.ca.
How many vacation days have you taken this year? Let us know in the comments below.