In 2001, Expedia Group embarked on a shopping spree. Over the course of nearly two decades, the Seattle travel platform snatched up more than 40 companies with a combined worth of nearly $13 billion.
Among the brands Expedia controls today are Travelocity, Hotwire, CheapTickets, Orbitz, HomeAway, Vrbo, Egencia and Hotels.com, to name just a few.
If you’re not sure what each of those companies does or why you’d want to use them, you’re not alone. Expedia says its customers are confused, too. In fact, media mogul and Expedia Chairman Barry Diller said during an earnings call last year that even the company’s own employees are baffled by its vast constellation of products.
Expedia has since set out to simplify things, and it’s turning to a former Apple marketing leader to make it happen.
Last week Expedia announced the hiring of Jon Gieselman, Apple’s former head of marketing for services, to help customers make sense of the online travel giant’s tangled product lineup.
In an interview with GeekWire, Gieselman said he plans to continue doing at Expedia what he did at Apple: Work closely with product, design, engineering and other tech teams “to come up with amazing experiences.”
“Then it’s really incumbent on marketing to bring those to life in a way that shows people how it changes the way they travel,” he said. “Marketing always begins with amazing customer experiences … certainly [Expedia] has done some of that. But, from my observation as a consumer, I don’t perceive that the company has really been product- and experience-led.”
Arguably no other tech company than Apple has done a better job of making the complex simple for its customers. Apple co-founder Steve Jobs talked endlessly about simplicity.
“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity,” Jobs told BusinessWeek in 1998. “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
Since Jobs’ death in 2011, Apple has added more than a dozen new varieties of products to its lineup, many of them under Gieselman’s purview. Yet, it has branded those new offerings with a kind of restraint that borders on blunt. When Apple released its watch in 2014, it simply called it “Apple Watch.”
Apple has adopted the same approach with the vast majority of its new products. The company has named its services plainly for what they are or what you do with them: Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple News, Apple Maps, Apple Podcasts, Apple Books, Apple Pay and Apple Card, for example
It’s been Gieselman’s job at Apple to help customers make sense of those ever-increasing product offerings.
“Think of it as product features that really change people’s lives,” he said.
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