In 1996, a small division within Microsoft launched the online travel booking site Expedia.com®, which gave consumers a revolutionary new way to research and book travel. Three years later, Expedia was spun out of Microsoft, becoming a publicly traded company on NASDAQ. Expedia, Inc., is now the world’s leading online travel company. With more people booking travel online in Expedia’s global marketplace than anywhere else, the company delivers consumers value in leisure and business travel, drives demand for travel suppliers, and provides advertisers opportunities to reach in-market travel consumers. The Expedia, Inc. portfolio of brands includes Expedia.com, Hotels.com®, Venere.com™, Hotwire®, Egencia™, TripAdvisor®, Expedia Local Expert®, Classic Vacations® and eLong™. Expedia’s companies operate more than 80 global points of sale in nearly 60 countries. Expedia also powers bookings for some of the world’s leading airlines and hotels, top consumer brands, high traffic websites, and thousands of active affiliates through Expedia Affiliate Network.
Before Expedia can offer a travel product to consumers through its Web sites, the company must have signed contracts in place detailing the product’s pricing rates, special offers and many other conditions. The contracts range from a few pages to tens of pages in length. The process of adding a new hotel to Expedia’s database begins when signed contracts are obtained by market development mangers based in travel destinations around the world. These contracts were converted to PDF (portable document format) files and e-mailed to Expedia corporate headquarters. At headquarters, Gene Harden, director of Lodging for Expedia and his team would print the PDFs, route them to the appropriate vice presidents for review and obtain “wet ink” signatures. Once signed, the contracts then had to be faxed back to the hotel partners. “After printing out all the contracts, we would typically have a 12- to 15-inch stack of paper that had to be routed, signed and faxed every day,” Harden says. “The fax machine would be running for four to five hours six days a week sending signed contracts to locations across Europe and Asia.” “We knew that printing, faxing and manual signing processes were not going to be able meet our requirements for speed or scale up to handle hundreds of contracts per week,” says Harden.
Expedia contracted with DocuSign to provide Corporate Enterprise electronic signature services. Now with DocuSign, the labor-intensive paper contracting processes have been eliminated.
Through its use of DocuSign, Expedia’s international market development managers can now obtain signatures from U.S. based vice presidents in real time. With contracts signed faster, new offerings are brought to market quicker. This means customers can start booking travel to more hotels sooner. In addition, since many hotels offer introductory rates when joining the Expedia service, Expedia is able to make these special rates available to customers for a longer period of time. For a high traffic service such as Expedia, even a few days makes a significant impact on revenue generation and customer satisfaction. Using the DocuSign e-signing service, market development managers prepare documents with virtual sign here or initial here tabs and transmit them directly to executives in the U.S. for review and signature. To sign the document, the vice president simply clicks on the sign here tabs and hits send to complete the process. A two-minute Web demonstration made it easy for managers and executives to learn the DocuSign service. The signed contracts are fully encrypted, stored electronically and easily accessible through a Web browser. In addition to speed, DocuSign gives Expedia’s market development managers better control over the signing process, enabling them to see where each contract is in the signing process, and which signer is next in queue to review and/or sign. Moreover, the managers have a permanent, online record of each contract, giving them better control over their hotel relationships, or allowing new managers to easily step in with full access to current and past records. “Expedia is a fast moving, online business, and we want to use the smartest services available. We were impressed from the start with how quickly and easily DocuSign helped us obtain signed contracts,” says Harden. Since the initial deployment of DocuSign, Expedia has expanded the use of the DocuSign eSignature service in other departments, including Expedia Human Resources and Recruiting.