A completely new and cost-effective way to engage and recruit Japanese students

The Global Early Talent team at Expedia Group is responsible for sourcing, engaging, and recruiting current and recently graduated university students worldwide for local in-market positions.

Japan, one of Expedia Group’s largest regional markets, is also one of their most challenging recruitment markets, owing to a hard to engage target audience. Try as they might, the team was unable to recruit people directly from Japanese universities. They had tried multiple tactics both in Japan and further afield, but nothing worked. Internally, the recruitment challenges were sparking different views on how to solve and in the end, the team resorted to recruiting via an international careers fair in Boston and repatriating applicants, often at great expense.

Business Objectives:

  • Identifying how to recruit Japanese students both locally and internationally.
  • Do this without adding more resource.
  • Considering diversifying away from traditional campus visits which were clearly not working.
  • Potentially leveraging digital assets to reach more people in a more cost-effective way.

Research Objectives:

  • Understand the associations, feelings and perceptions of potential candidates towards Expedia Group versus the competition. Determine why Japanese students do not currently engage with them and what to do about it
  • Understand what messaging resonates with candidates and why it resonates with them. Discover what makes a candidate connect with a potential employer.
  • Identify the key sources of awareness online. What drives the candidate journey of searching, applying, and interviewing? What digital channels are used and how are they used?


Crowdsourced behaviours, attitudes & future directions with 100 Japanese Students by leveraging the wisdom of the crowd to identify clear patterns across the areas we were interested in. We then used a range of collaborative engagements to co-create ideas about the future based upon the core insights we had discovered, which we in turn became strategic recommendations for how to move forward.

Discovered their thoughts and feelings via a diverse range of activities specifically designed to identify the emotions associated with the job search process, different working environments, different employers, and the transition from student life to work life. Questions directly relating to their opinions and perceptions of Expedia Group were also asked and complimented by the students personifying the brand using multi-media responses to create crowdsourced mood boards and in doing so move away from pure word association and into a more emotional state.

Observed their job search behaviours by exploring their typical job search journey by learning which channels they used and what they looked for both in a potential employer and what might stand out (and turn them off) in terms of communicating working culture at
a company, job descriptions and job adverts. simplest of tasks. We also provided them with a link to the Expedia Group careers website and asked them to find a specific job opening on the site, with the simple KPI of who could access it. This enabled us to understand how they felt about Expedia Group as a potential employer having gone through the job search process, as well as understand where and why they may have failed to find the job.  This allowed them to also express how they felt they would improve the process overall. 

Evaluated the Expedia Group Job Descriptions via a quick survey to the group that included closed questions and a “pin the image” exercise where the participants could add positive or negative reactions.  They could also leave comments as to why they felt the way they did along with how and why they would improve the communication themselves.


The previous year the team had reached somewhat of a nadir in that they had zero job applications. Following our recommendations, the team saw a total of 398 job applications!

Considering the industry average cost to recruit a graduate is around $2500, plus the cost of repatriating a student from Boston to Japan, the Cost per Applicant (a fundamental KPI of recruitment) of this campaign, at $63.60, was significantly lower than ever before.

In total the campaign had over 8 million impressions, 66.8k clicks and a CTR of 0.84%.