Skift Take

There will clearly be more pruning to come as Expedia Group expands its One Key loyalty program to Europe, and takes hard looks at its brands and operations in countries around the world.

Expedia Group in recent years has shed around a half-dozen brands, and it is continuing the purge with the closure of ebookers UK on September 4.

The decision to shutter the brand came while Peter Kern still headed Expedia Group as CEO, although it wasn’t publicized at the time. ebookers UK, however, will fade into oblivion under the leadership of the Group’s new CEO, Ariane Gorin, who took over the top slot last month.

An announcement on the ebookers UK website says Expedia Group will “retire” the ebookers UK website and its Bonus + loyalty program in the UK on that date. ebookers traces its roots to 1998; a predecessor website, Flightbookers, is said to have launched the first UK online travel agency website a couple of years earlier.

An Expedia Group spokesperson told Skift “we decided that those travelers would get the best experience on Expedia” instead of ebookers UK. Expedia Group of late has put little or no marketing resources into ebookers UK, a near-full service travel site. It had a fraction of Expedia UK’s website traffic.

The calculation as to where to retain an Expedia Group brand other than or, for example, pertains to brand strength. In a place like Australia, for example, where the parent company’s Wotif brand remains strong, it would be short-sighted to eliminate it.

The move was part of the drive, which began under ex-CEO Peter Kern, to simplify Expedia Group’s operations. Under his tenure, which ended last month, Expedia sold or shuttered Egencia, SilverRail, Classic Vacations, Expedia Group Multifamily, Alice, and Kern stayed on as Expedia Group vice chairman, a post he’s held since 2018.

Source: Expedia Group

ebookers websites and the Bonus + loyalty program, which offers up to 5% cash back and the ability to redeem rewards on hotels, will remain operational in Switzerland, Belgium, Finland, France, Italy and Sweden.

The move comes as Expedia Group is poised to launch its One Key loyalty program from the U.S. into parts of Europe. One Key combined the distinct loyalty programs of Group brands Expedia, and Orbitz, and expanded it to Vrbo.

ebookers UK customers will be able to travel on their existing reservations without disruptions, and have the ability to change or cancel reservations after September 4 on their ebookers UK Trips pages after the September 4 closure or by contacting customer service, the announcement said.

They can still earn Bonus + awards through September 4, said Expedia Group, which thereafter plans to transfer those awards at “full value” to customers’ One Key accounts on Expedia, or Vrbo. If the ebooker UK customer doesn’t have a One Key account in one of those three brands, they would get an Expedia account, the company stated.

Expedia Group inherited ebookers in 2015 when it bought its parent company, Orbitz Worldwide, for $1.6 billion.

Note: The headline and story were updated to reflect the fact that the decision to shutter ebookers UK came under the tenure of now ex-CEO Peter Kern.

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Tags: ariane gorin, dwell, ebookers, expedia,, loyalty, one key, online travel newsletter, peter kern, short-term rentals, very online, vrbo

Photo credit: Before she was CEO, Ariane Gorin appeared at Skift Forum Europe in London in 2022. Skift

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