Expedia’s ‘have job, will travel’ workplace

Expedia’s ‘have job, will travel’ workplace

Expedia Group’s decision to move its headquarters from Bellevue across Lake Washington to Seattle at the 40-acre former Amgen waterfront campus may further solidify the city’s status as a major tech hub.

However, as a company that uses technology to help solve destination challenges, Expedia Group also sees it as an opportunity to build a workplace that will not only accommodate their large workforce, but will also act as a destination for their employees.

“As a technology company, finding this campus overlooking Elliot Bay (with) beautiful views of the mountains, beautiful views of the water – it’s a destination unto itself,” Expedia Group Spokesperson Maureen Thon said. “Seattle is really the foundation for the future of Expedia.”

With a nearby rail line, a nearby port terminal and a public beach overlooking the bay, the hope is that the environment will help inspire ways to solve travel-related issues.

“We want people that are obsessed with problem-solving travel, that have a passion for travel, that have a passion for people,” Thon said. “Our base is here in the Pacific Northwest, which allows for a very tech-centric way to solve problems.”

Formed in 1996 originally as a division within Microsoft, the company recently morphed into Expedia Group to account for additional products that now include CheapTickets, Expedia Local Expert, Orbitz and Travelocity. In 2015, company leaders announced plans to move from the Bellevue headquarters in response to a growing workforce that is now over 22,000.

“Ultimately it comes down to space,” Thon said.

Yet the move also places them close to the corporate headquarters of Fortune 500 companies such as Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom and Alaska Airlines.

“Seattle is an epicenter of tech talent, aerospace talent, life sciences talent,” she said. “It’s at the center of so much tech innovation, and I think that is a huge draw for us. We want to be touch with and in tune with attracting talent.”

Thon added that in addition to space issues with the current 19-story headquarters, it didn’t allow for the kind of internal teamwork they hope will be achieved at the former Amgen site – a location that features several shorter buildings.

“The Seattle campus that we found hit on all the major criteria,” she said. “The location is a huge draw for us. It’s set up in a much more collaborative way. It’s invaluable to have people in the same room together having one-to-one conversations.”

The campus design will include amenities, such as an amphitheater, “that really speak to this idea of destination and speak to this idea: what elements of your favorite destination do you want to go back to?” Thon said.

In keeping with the company’s product services, much of their new campus focuses on expanded transportation options. In addition to the existing nearby bike paths, the campus will have a 400-space bike garage, new bike pathways within the public park space and a free Expedia commuter shuttle. Thon says they also plan to take advantage of local transit and light rail opportunities with free Orca passes.

“As wonderful as the many telecommunicating opportunities are, they can’t really replace the value of in-person collaboration,” Thon said. “Location still matters, and office-wise we’re intentionally designing a place where our employees want to go. Think about your favorite destination; think of the things that you really love about that place.”

The company plans to move in next year after renovation work is done on the existing buildings, with plans for further future expansion.

TJ Martinell is a native Washingtonian and award-winning journalist. Born and raised in Bellevue, he’s been involved in the news industry since working at his high school newspaper.

His investigative reporting for various community newspapers in the Puget Sound region has been recognized by the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and the Society for Professional Journalists.

A graduate of Eastern Washington University, he has a B.A. in journalism and was the news editor of EWU’s student university newspaper.

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