REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 22, 1996 — Microsoft ® Expedia
, a free, comprehensive, user-friendly travel service, debuted today on the World Wide Web at (http://expedia.MSN.com/) . Expedia marks the entry of Microsoft Corp. as the first major technology player in the online travel services arena.
Expedia enables leisure and small-business travelers to book air, car and hotel reservations online and browse a library of in-depth multimedia travel guides. Customers also can purchase their travel online securely with their credit card 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Expedia is available free of charge on the Internet and is featured on MSN
, The Microsoft Network (connect-time charges may apply).
“Expedia builds on Microsoft’s commitment to using the Internet to solve real customer needs,”
said Bill Gates, chairman and CEO of Microsoft.
“Providing people real-time access to constantly changing information in an easy-to-use way furthers our longstanding vision that the PC is the ultimate information tool for consumers. Being able to tap into and book the latest, lowest airfares right from your PC with Expedia is very compelling. We think it will reshape the way consumers plan and purchase their travel.”
Jupiter Communications predicts online volume of travel and ticket purchases could grow from just over $600 million a year currently for all travel categories to $3 billion by 2000, based on statistics from the Jupiter 1996 Home Shopping Report.
“The way people think about and purchase travel is changing rapidly,”
said Jeff Hoffman, president and COO of e-CommLink Inc. and a travel industry specialist.
“They demand customized information from a reliable source. And they demand it on their own time. It’s going to take a company that really knows technology to bring this expertise to today’s traveler via the Internet.”
“The combination of Microsoft’s experience in consumer software and in-depth multimedia content will make Expedia the premier place to plan and purchase travel on the Web,”
said John Neilson, vice president, information business unit at Microsoft.
“Our goal with Expedia is to provide travelers with all the information they need to take a trip – from exploring destinations to making reservations to actually purchasing tickets. Not only does Expedia give travelers up-to-the-minute information on fares, schedules and accommodations, but they can also explore their destination online even before they get there. This helps them select options that best meet their travel needs.”
How Expedia Works
Expedia taps into the same comprehensive reservation system used by professional travel agents and displays the information in an easy-to-understand way. Expedia enables users to shop for the best fares and schedules and to build a complete personalized itinerary including air, hotel and car reservations. A series of software
guide customers through this process and help them select the options they prefer. Tickets can be purchased with credit cards online directly through Expedia. Or, if users prefer, they can call a toll-free number the first time they use the service and enter their credit-card information. Reservations are confirmed immediately, and Expedia returns an e-mail message confirming the transaction. Tickets are sent by first-class or Express Mail, or they can be picked up at the airport ticket counter. Expedia also supports
For customers who need support when they’re on the road or need to make last-minute changes to their itineraries, Expedia operates phone lines staffed by travel professionals 24 hours a day, seven days a week (toll-free in the United States). In addition, Expedia bulletin boards offer customers the opportunity to exchange information with fellow travelers and Microsoft travel experts who will be active members of this online community.
Expedia Content and Features
Expedia combines the airline schedules and hotel and car information that travelers need with compelling multimedia destination information.
The Expedia Travel Agent is the heart of Expedia. Travel Agent allows users to tap into the same database that travel agents use, without all the confusing codes and jargon. Software wizards – a series of prompts and questions – guide users through the process of researching, booking and purchasing travel. This feature includes a Flight Wizard, Car Wizard and Hotel Wizard. Expedia connects to the WORLDSPAN reservation system to empower customers to book flights on most major airlines, make reservations at more than 25,000 hotels, and access major car rental companies.
The Hotel Directory features more than 25,000 hotel properties around the world, with information on rates, amenities and more. Expedia even plots the hotel location on a city map, helping travelers be sure their hotel is conveniently located, whether they want to stay downtown for a business meeting or event, or near the airport. In addition, pictures and descriptions are available for many hotels.
The personalized Fare Tracker service helps travelers find the best airfare between two cities of their choosing. Users simply select three pairs of cities, and Expedia sends weekly e-mail messages with the best fares between those destinations. Like all of Expedia, Fare Tracker is provided free of charge.
The Expedia World Guide includes cultural, historical and entertainment information for more than 300 domestic and international destinations – the equivalent of more than a dozen guidebooks online. Travel Central presents biweekly Full Circle virtual tours with 360-degree Panoramic Views, information and suggestions on what users might see and do if they visit a featured destination.
Through Connections forums, users post questions and share travel tips with fellow travelers. Travel experts serve as forum managers. Savvy travelers and first-time vacationers alike can find up-to-the minute travel news, weather information and even currency exchanges on News Point .
Finally, Mungo Park
™ adventure magazine is featured on Expedia. Named for an 18th-century Scottish explorer who first charted the Niger River and mysteriously disappeared while navigating its waters, Mungo Park is the first online, interactive adventure magazine to feature both real-world exploration and provocative, original writing from today’s best-selling authors. The next live expedition, beginning
Nov. 6, takes readers to Mali, Africa, to follow in the footsteps of Mungo Park down the Niger River and on the road to Timbuktu.
Start Your Travel Here, Start Your Travel Now
Microsoft is sponsoring two promotions to encourage consumers to start their travel now on Expedia. Between Oct. 22 and Nov. 26, 1996, Expedia will give away free tickets on any airline (up to $350 including tax), one night’s free stay at any Doubletree hotel, and one free weekend-day car rental from National Car Rental in the 100 Flights, 100 Nights Sweepstakes. To enter, simply register online with Expedia. Entry to the sweepstakes is free; 20 winners will be chosen each week. Full details and contest rules are located on Expedia at (http://expedia.MSN.com/) . To enter by mail, entrants should handprint their name, complete street address, city, state and ZIP code on a 3-by-5-inch card and mail it in a first-class, stamped envelope to Microsoft Expedia Sweepstakes, P.O. Box 3061, Young America, MN 55558-3061.
In addition, customers of Expedia will receive bonus frequent flier miles just for purchasing a ticket on a participating airline between now and Dec. 31, 1996. Northwest Airlines and Continental Airlines will award 1,000 bonus miles for each flight; American Airlines will award 500 bonus miles.
Expedia is a featured service in the Essentials section of MSN. The new Web-based version of MSN, featuring original entertainment and programming, essential services such as Expedia, and a program viewer that puts MSN members just one click away from any site on the Internet, was unveiled earlier this month.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ
) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.
Microsoft, Expedia, MSN and Mungo Park are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.
Other product and company names herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.
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