Expedia committed to supporting local online travel companies in Russia
09/02/2008|11:23:00 AM|Eyefortravel
Published: 01 Sep 2008: Online travel agency Expedia is ready to support local online travel companies in Russia to develop their businesses by integrating its technology and making its expertise and product available to them.

At the same time, Expedia is raising the profile of Hotels.com locally, says Andrew Pyner, Business Development Manager, Expedia Distribution.

Pyner said, "We are engaging and supporting hotels in the Russian regions in order to open up the significant opportunities of the online travel environment to them."

Online sales of hotel accommodation in Russia has only started to take off very recently. However, according to the industry experts from the reservation and distribution technology sector, the demographics are in place for fast adoption of the online model.

Pyner, too, feels the demographics are certainly in place but the infrastructure needs to be addressed especially concerning the domestic supply and demand.

"There is a strong offline/on request segment, which in itself can only handle a certain amount of the demand efficiently. Inbound online business to Russia is buoyant but there is still massive potential to open up choice for the Russian online consumer empowering them to reach smart decisions and tailor-make their travel plans," says Pyner.

As for the Russian Federation local hotel bookings, the general lack of technology and mentality of hoteliers in various regions result close to zero online availability of those hotels.

Plus, Russian immigration rules to foreigners are making it impossible for tourists from other countries to freely travel or go for last-minute travel along Russian territories.

On how a company like Expedia can make difference in this arena, Pyner said looking at the way the hotel community in Moscow and St Petersburg especially have embraced the challenges of the developing travel market over the last 10 years, there is little doubt that this level of flexibility and dynamism will spread to the regions.

"Russia is a large country and any travel within its borders, whether domestic or international, by definition involves long distances whether the journey originates within Russia or from abroad. As demand for products outside the main cities of Moscow and St Petersburg increases in tandem with the expansion of online, real time distribution, so will the ways in which hotels and other suppliers in the Russian regions handle such business," he said.

According to Pyner, Expedia´s role is to support and encourage this change by engaging in active dialogue and consultation with these partners and demonstrating that his company´s business model is flexible, attractive, generates incremental revenues and, importantly, is profitable.