Global OTA giant Expedia is taking studying the consumer experience to the next level, with the launch last month of a new “innovation lab” in Singapore which aims to provide deep insights into consumer travel search and booking behaviour. The facility uses eye-tracking technology and “electromyography” to quantify the connection between what a user is seeing and feeling and what actually makes them book.

Electromyography tracks the electrical activity produced by muscles, with the company placing small sensors on the cheek and eyebrow of volunteers to record tiny changes in their facial muscles. An eye-tracking camera links to the data to understand the real-time impact the experience is creating as the user navigates the booking process. Researchers with “unique skills in cognitive psychology” analyse the outcome to figure out where exactly a user was looking and what actions they took as a result of emotional responses to what they were seeing.

The information is then fed into the ongoing development of Expedia’s websites and apps, with the aim of driving incremental improvements in booking conversions.

The Singapore facility is Expedia’s third Innovation Lab, complementing existing operations in its headquarters in Seattle in the USA and another recently launched lab in London. Basing the new facility in Asia-Pacific means it will particularly look at the experience of travellers in the region, signalling the company’s ongoing strong focus on the Asian market.

The company’s global ceo, Dara Khosrowshahi, who was in Singapore for the launch, said the long-term success of Expedia would depend on its success in the Asian market. “After the US, APAC is second and in time it may come to rival the US in size,” he said. At a press conference to launch the new facility Khosrowshahi also delivered a jibe at US President Donald Trump, saying “travel is a force for good in the world. Despite what our President believes, the more travel there is, the better. The more we realise our commonality, the more we respect each other. We are about making it easier, safer and cheaper for people to get to places – and that’s about changing the world”.


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