The year 2020 was the 20th anniversary of Expedia Group Media Solutions connecting advertisers with travel audiences across the globe. To mark the occasion, we started highlighting the most important part of our business: our people. In this blog series, we are spotlighting the people who power our business so you can get to know the faces behind Media Solutions – or “MeSo” as we refer to ourselves internally. Our team of digital marketing and travel industry experts spans the globe, and across partner-facing teams, product, technology, operations, analytics, strategy, and marketing.
In this post, we’re featuring Gina Shuford, a TravelAds business development manager based in New Orleans. Gina has been with Expedia Group for almost 10 years and joined Media Solutions nearly two years ago as a member of the TravelAds team. In her current role, Gina works directly with hotel and lodging partners to increase their visibility on the Expedia Group network of sites through our TravelAds Sponsored Listings solution. TravelAds is a pay-per-click hotel advertising platform designed to connect hotels with our highly engaged travel audience through sponsored listings across Expedia Group websites.
Can you describe what your role is and what you do for partners?
Currently, I work as a business development manager for the New Orleans, Louisiana and Houston and Galveston, Texas markets, specifically within the TravelAds team. My team and I help enrich our partners with the knowledge, trends, and competitive insight to ensure our pay-per-click program meets their hotel needs and objectives. Each market that I oversee is unique and has different measures of success, so I connect with those partners and provide them with ways to incorporate unique trends and market insights into their TravelAds strategy on a long-term basis.
Our new Success Story video highlights our work with PA Hospitality in Houston and showcases how we work with partners on incorporating TravelAds Sponsored Listings into their marketing strategies to help achieve their business objectives. PA Hospitality tapped into our TravelAds solution to increase visibility during a sustained period of challenges, including an ice storm, hurricane, and pandemic, and successfully boosted occupancy rates as a result.
What things do you enjoy about working for the Media Solutions team and the travel industry?
I love that I get to connect with so many different people that come from such diverse backgrounds. It has been amazing to form close bonds with those people, really getting to know each of them on a personal level. From knowing the date of their children’s birthdays to getting a quick text from a partner on their flight to Mexico, I have formed lifelong friendships with my partners and colleagues, most of whom I may have never crossed paths with if I didn’t work in travel.
What are some of the aspects, responsibilities, or challenges associated with your role people might not know about?
While I spend most of my time optimizing current TravelAds strategies with my partners, I also pride myself in really understanding all aspects of the business and moving it forward. For example, part of my role includes educating our partners about the industry and our offerings through webinars and collaborating with market managers. This last year-and-half has been a difficult year for many, especially for those in the travel industry, and recovery in one market may look completely different than in another market. It’s important that our partners are equipped with the data, insights, and knowledge they need to make the best decisions possible, which is why I place immense importance on educating our partners on how travel has evolved and where it’s going next.
What is your biggest travel tip?
I am a big foodie and love to try new foods and restaurants when I visit somewhere for the first time. I recommend always looking up the best local spots—not the tourist attractions—and finding out what that city does best and go all in. If you are open to surprises, just ask the waiter to “feed you,” and you likely won’t get something on the menu, but the chef will often prepare their specialty. You won’t regret it!
What was the first trip you ever booked on an Expedia Group brand?
The first trip I booked on Expedia was a quick getaway with my husband and our four-year-old son. We took him to Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and it was one of the most special trips. We had an amazing time and will never forget it.
Where was the first place you ever went on vacation?
When I was nine months old, my parents took me on my first flight from my hometown of New Orleans to San Francisco, California. Needless to say, I don’t remember any of it.
To learn more about TravelAds Sponsored Listings and what this solution can do for your business, download the guide.
We’ll continue to feature employees and regularly offer a glimpse inside their roles on our blog. Subscribe to our blog to get reminders in your inbox when we post new insights, research, product features, and employee spotlights.