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Expedia loads app with recommended content to bolster retention

Expedia?s new application feature that recommends travel-related content is the latest example of the lengths that brands are willing to go in upping app retention and engagement. 

The online travel agency?s new feature is called Media Lounge and is integrated into the brand?s iPhone and iPod touch app. The program is built around the idea that Expedia wants to own more than booking when it comes to the mobile traveling experience.

?The Media Lounge partnership with Apple takes the next step in providing a more complete and enjoyable travel experience for mobile users,? said John Kim, senior vice president of global products at Expedia, Bellevue, WA.

How it works
Media Lounge is available within the Trips section in the Expedia iPhone app. From there, consumers can click on a button called ?Extras? and view all of the recommended apps.

To kick off Media Lounge, Expedia is offering the photo-editing app Over, which is typically $1.99, for free.

Over lets consumers overlay text and graphics on top of photos. The app includes customized fonts and users can also discover new photos from within the app.

Going forward, Expedia will roll out new content during the first week of each month.

The content featured within the Expedia app will include a mixture of both paid and free travel-related apps. Content will also differ based on a consumer?s location.

Expedia?s new feature highlights a bigger trend with recommended apps that brands including Sephora and Starbucks are also trying. 

For example, Sephora rolled out a program earlier this year called Sephora Shares that recommends beauty and lifestyle-themed apps, songs and books to app users (see story).

The idea behind these programs is for lesser-known apps to get additional exposure with the endorsement from a big brand. At the same time, brands want to increase app retention by churning out related content.

Moving beyond bookings
Similar to other online travel agencies and brands, Expedia?s Media Lounge is part of a bigger mobile strategy from the company to use the medium for more than conversions.

Expedia is among a group of online travel companies trying to leverage Big Data to create more contextually-relevant mobile experiences (see story). 

Last April, Expedia also made an update to its app that uses visual cues to pull up information about each step of a consumer?s travel plan. This includes the ability to share an itinerary via SMS (see story). 

With mobile sales now table stakes for many online travel brands, finding ways to influence offline sales and other parts of the travel experience is increasingly becoming more important for marketers in this space.

?Expedia?s larger mobile strategy has long been to anticipate and meet the needs of these increasingly mobile travelers by providing them with the best possible user experience on Expedia?s mobile app,? Mr. Kim said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York