Online Travel Update: Expedia Partner Solutions offers carbon neutral hotel stays; traditional offline travel management companies offer new technologies; Amazon ads target travel companies | Foster Garvey PC


Traditional Offline Travel Management Companies Offer New Technologies
(“TMCs Unveil Tech Enhancements at GBTA,” November 17, 2021 via Business Travel News)
(CWT Plans $100 Million Technology Investment,” November 16, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
Last week, two stories detailed investments being made by some the largest traditional offline travel companies into new travel technology. At last week’s Global Business Travel Association’s Convention, travel management companies, BCD Travel, Corporate Travel Management and TripActions, announced new technologies focused on risk management and trip disruption. The new mobile application, passenger notifications and risk-based trip approval system are all designed to address clients’ COVID-induced travel risk, security and well-being concerns. Separately, CWT – fresh off its one-day Chapter 11 bankruptcy — announced plans to invest $100 million in its myCWT travel management platform, which include improvements to its online hotel booking experience.

Amazon Ads Targets Travel Companies
Amazon Ads Wants to Help Travel Outfits by Sharing its Customers’ Buying Habits,” November 17, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Over the past 18 months, Amazon’s advertising business (Amazon Ads) has been targeting travel and hospitality industry businesses. The new ad program allows customers to leverage Amazon’s wealth of customer data (think Prime members purchasing luggage tags or travel guides) to deliver targeted ads to users of Amazon’s many platforms (including Alexa).


Other news:

Wyndham Hotels Signs Distribution Deal With Trip.com
November 18, 2021 via Hotel Management – Hotel news
More than 9,000 hotels globally operated by Wyndham Hotels and Resorts can now be searched and booked on Trip.com after the two parties signed a comprehensive distribution agreement to sell the hotel’s inventory across its family of websites.

TravelBank Acquired by U.S. Bancorp
November 17, 2021 via Phocus Wire
TravelBank will become part of the U.S. Bancorp portfolio of businesses following an acquisition announced last week. Details of the deal have not been disclosed. U.S.-based TravelBank, a member of the PhocusWire Hot 25 Travel Startups for 2020 collection, is a travel and expenses management platform.

Green Travel: Booking Holdings Launches a New Sustainability Badge for Accommodations
November 16, 2021 via Yahoo Finance – Top Stories
Glenn Fogel, Booking Holdings CEO, joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss the travel company’s new feature to help consumers find hotels and accommodations that are implementing sustainability practices.

Welcome to the Hot 25 Startups for 2022
November 15, 2021 via Phocus Wire
PhocusWire presents the Hot 25 Travel Startups for 2022 – the annual list of new companies in travel, tourism and hospitality that they think will make a mark next year.



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Online Travel Update: Booking Holdings to acquire Getaroom; Amadeus announces value-based agreement with Delta Airlines; the end of travel advisors may be near | Foster Garvey PC


We begin this week’s Update with the announced acquisition of Getaroom by Booking Holdings. Enjoy.

Booking Holdings to Acquire Getaroom
(“Booking Holdings to Acquire Getaroom for $1.2 Billion,” November 12, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
On Friday (November 12), Booking Holdings announced one of its largest acquisitions in some time – the $1.2 billion purchase of B2B platform, Getaroom. At closing, Getaroom will join Priceline’s strategic partnerships team, Priceline Partner Network, which, Priceline claims, will result in new and improved B2B distribution opportunities for its hotel suppliers.

Amadeus Announces Value-Based Agreement With Delta Airlines
(“Amadeus Enters Into Value-Based Distribution Deal With Delta,” November 10, 2021 via Travel Weekly)
Seeking to leverage global distribution systems’ (GDS) improved merchandising platforms (through which suppliers like Delta can display a full range of ancillary and premium products), Delta has struck its third value-based distribution agreement – this time with Amadeus. Like Delta’s previous agreements with Sabre (May) and Travelport (August), this latest agreement allows Delta to move away from flat transaction fees to value-based fees determined by the value of each booking. As hotels consider attribute-based pricing (see our prior story) or alternative uses of their services and amenities (e.g., day use, co-working, etc.), can hotels’ use of these new GDS merchandising platforms be far behind?

Is This the End of the Travel Advisor?
(“U.S. Travel Agencies Can’t Cope With Demand Because of Advisor Shortage,” November 9, 2021 via Skift) (subscription may be required)
As the travel industry continues to return to “normalcy,” one thing has become increasing clear. The industry’s labor shortage is likely to have a profound and potentially long-lasting effect. This week’s example – the endangered travel advisor. With 62 percent of U.S. travel advisors either laid off or furloughed in 2020, and travel agency owners either unwilling or unable to rehire advisors, clients desperate to travel have two choices – postpone or even cancel their travel plans or find some other booking alternative. As we noted a few weeks earlier, there is growing evidence that those travelers who not willing to wait are beginning to use booking alternatives. Neither choice is good for the industry. Postponing travel or not traveling at all is obviously not good for anyone – particularly the millions employed globally in the travel industry. A wholesale shift in booking behavior (similar to the dramatic shift that occurred post 9/11) presents its own challenges. Travel advisors play critical roles in the travel ecosystem, particularly for those suppliers with a wide variety of customizable products and services (think cruise, tours and luxury travel). Not only are many of the these booking alternatives (even direct channels) poorly suited to promote and “sell” (or upsell or cross sell) these products and services, but as history has shown, many of these third-party channels become prohibitively expensive and difficult to manage as they grow in popularity and begin to yield considerable market power.


Other news:

Apple Privacy Changes Could Give More Leverage to Big Online Travel Agencies
November 10, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
Apple’s privacy changes are becoming a marketing and personalization headache across the travel industry, but they could further strengthen the largest online travel agencies with access to huge amounts of first-party data versus smaller competitors.

Tripadvisor CEO Steve Kaufer to Retire as Company Posts Q3 Revenue of $303 Million
November 8, 2021 via Phocus Wire
Tripadvisor announced the news in tandem with its financial report for the third quarter of 2021. Kaufer says he will remain in his position until a successor is named.

SiteMinder Grabs Unicorn Status in Australia IPO
November 8, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Chalk one up for the behind-the-scenes channel managers and hotel distribution: Sydney-based SiteMinder achieved unicorn status in an initial public offering in Australia, and had a market cap of around $1.4 billion (AU $1.88 billion) at the close of trading Monday.



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Online Travel Update: South Korean regulators re-examine OTA practices; cruise bookings move online; Fairfly plans to offer hotel solution | Foster Garvey PC


Our cruise industry friends make an appearance in this week’s Update, one of their first appearances in some time. Enjoy.

South Korean Regulators Re-Examine OTA Practices
(“Online hotel booking sites to come under heightened scrutiny from South Korean regulator,” October 28, 2021 via MLEX Insight) (subscription may be required)
By now, readers are well aware of South Korea’s previous investigation into the major online travel agencies (OTAs)’ contracting practices (specifically, rate parity requirements) and the resulting “corrections” announced by OTAs (Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia and Hotels.com) earlier this year. These corrections mirror the compromises reached in several other countries where OTAs agreed to remove availability and indirect channel rate parity, but retained direct channel parity requirements (e.g., hoteliers must continue to provide OTAs with rates equal to or better than the rates on the hoteliers’ own websites). With the travel industry expected to rebound quickly in Korea as the threat of COVID subsides, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) announced last week plans to re-examine the OTAs’ current contracting practices and their effect on the market. Separately, the KFTC announced that an investigation into OTAs’ advertising practices, specifically whether OTAs provide adequate notice regarding display advertising’s effects on sort order, was already underway.

Cruise Moves Online
(“Online cruise bookings leave many travel advisors behind,” October 27, 2021 via PhocusWire)
For years I’ve asked our cruise industry clients why the industry was slow to move more of their bookings online (relying instead on traditional offline distribution channels). While the answers varied, the most common response I received was that the complexity of cruise offerings (e.g., hundreds of cabin types, rates, etc.) made it difficult for most travelers to book online. Times may be changing. In a recorded video to travel advisors, Royal Caribbean Group CEO, Richard Fain, reported that while demand for the company’s cruise offerings was rebounding, the revival was coming largely through online channels. Is this simply because of travelers’ reaction to moving their other purchases online during COVID? A reflection of the massive layoffs that occurred at travel agents and advisors? For an industry that has relied so heavily through the years on travel agents and advisors, this will be an interesting trend to watch.  

Fairfly to Offer Hotel Solution
(“FairFly to Debut Hotel Solution,” October 25, 2021 via Business Travel News)
Last week, re-shopping platform, Fairfly, announced that it would be launching a hotel re-shopping platform in early 2022. The platform will allow Fairfly clients to reshop (e.g., automated cancellation of current bookings and rebooking at lower available rates) their hotel bookings through the platform’s use of multi-channel data and artificial intelligence. Hotel rate benchmarking and other tools will also be made available to clients. Fairfly’s announcement comes at a time where other similar fintech-backed travel products and services (i.e. Hopper’s airfare and room rate freezes) are garnering much of the industries’ attention.


Other news:

Marriott to Adopt a Dynamic Pricing System for Bonvoy Loyalty Program
October 26, 2021 via TravelWeekly
Starting early next year, Marriott will move to dynamic pricing for its Bonvoy rewards redemption rates, the company announced. Dynamic pricing – setting flexible prices for products or services based on market demands – has been used to boost profits for a range of industries from sporting-event tickets to rideshare services.

Trivago and China’s Huawei Partner for Smartphone Company’s Paid Search
October 26, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
The Trivago-Huawei deal is one of several that Trivago is piloting where it provides backend services to business partners. These could develop one day into a material revenue stream for the German company.



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Online Travel Update: Airbnb takes steps to accommodate hotel listings; Hopper is ranked the most downloaded travel app in the first half of 2021 | Foster Garvey PC


Fall has definitely arrived in the Pacific Northwest. It was a relatively quiet week in the online travel world. This week’s Update features a story on one of the most widely used Global Distribution Systems – Amadeus – as the company announces its second (unnamed) major customer for its new reservation platform. Enjoy.

Airbnb Takes Steps to Accommodate Hotel Listings
(“Airbnb revives hotel strategy, moves closer to rival OTA model,” September 29, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
While the pandemic may have led Airbnb to pause its hotel distribution aspirations, it appears that the pause may have only been temporary. Airbnb is reportedly testing a new API that allows suppliers to provide and display multiple rate plans (similar to many of Airbnb’s OTA competitors). According to two of Airbnb’s beta partners – RoomCloud (an Italian channel manager and booking engine) and Cloudbeds (an US cloud-based PMS provider), the changes are designed to appeal to hoteliers. Airbnb is also apparently re-starting efforts with its mobile booking platform, HotelTonight, as it seeks to fill multiple open positions within the company, including market managers. Airbnb has refused to provide comment on either effort.

The Most Downloaded Travel App in the First Half of 2021? Hopper
(“Top Travel Booking Apps: Look Who’s Winning the U.S. Now,” September 28, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Those of you who have read my Update for the past year or two know all about Hopper. While Hopper may have started out as just another mobile booking application, it is now successfully leveraging its many fintech tools to appeal to post-pandemic travelers seeking maximum flexibility in their travel plans (as evidenced by the 1.3 million U.S. consumer downloads of the app that occurred in July alone). As noted in last week’s Update, Hopper CEO, Frederic Lalonde, isn’t satisfied just being the most downloaded app, he hopes to create the “West’s first travel superapp.” For those of you wondering, with the exception of Tripadvisor, Expedia and/or Booking Holdings owned applications dominated the remainder of the list of the top ten most downloaded apps.


Other news:

Amadeus Signs Another Hotel Giant to Its Enterprise Software Platform
September 28, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
On Tuesday, Amadeus revealed it had signed on an as-yet-unnamed hotel company to use its hospitality software platform.

Pandemic Twist Emerges on Bookings for Hotels in Tussle With Online Resellers
September 27, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Several hotel groups have tried to lower costs for roughly a decade by driving more consumers to book directly. During the pandemic recovery, hoteliers have by and large continued to avoid overusing aggregators such as Expedia and Booking.com for much of their online sales.



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Online Travel Update: MCR Hotels trial runs attribute pricing; Travel Funders Network offers revenue guarantee; and Hopper raises another $175 million | Foster Garvey PC


MCR Hotels Trial Runs Attribute Pricing
(“One of the US’s largest hotel owners is charging guests $25 to use the swimming pool and $20 to check in early — but is cutting room prices in return,” August 18, 2021 via Business Insider)
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, hotel owner and operator, MCR Hotels CEO, Tyler Morse, shared the company’s plans to begin offering attribute pricing for 12 of its independent hotels. According to Morse, the company plans to reduce its hotels’ base room rates, while at the same time charging additional fees for guests’ use of certain of the hotels’ amenities (e.g., pool or fitness center) or other services (e.g., early arrival). Whether MCR’s plans signal the beginning of the lodging industry’s long discussed transition to attribute pricing remains to be seen. With many hotels suspending traditional guest services (e.g. daily housekeeping) during the pandemic (and owners reaping the associated economic benefits), the post-pandemic return of the lodging industry may provide a unique opportunity to rethink guest room pricing. How these new practices might fit with legacy distribution systems, OTA fee structures, sales contracting practices, etc., remains to be seen.

Travel Funders Network Offers Revenue Guarantee
(“Don’t Call Us Oyo: Online Travel Veterans Launch Hotel Distribution Network With Distinct Model,” August 17, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Distribution veterans, Bob Diener and David Litman, launched Travel Funders Network, a new online distribution platform that offers participating hotels minimum revenue guarantees. Participating hotels pay no up-front fees to join the platform, but in exchange for the minimum revenue guarantee, the platform requires larger margins (i.e. larger discounts) on the dynamic net rates it receives. The platform then markets rooms on a standalone or package basis through a “unique” network of private business-to-business channels, including airline loyalty programs and associations. While Diener and Litman hope to ultimately grow the platform to 300-500 hotels (mostly 3-star hotels), only select hotels in key markets will be initially invited to join.

Hopper Raises Another $175 Million
(“Hopper raises another $175M, will add 500 employees,” August 17, 2021 via phocuswire.com)
Readers of our weekly Online Travel Update should be very familiar with online travel platform and fintech provider, Hopper. Beyond its mobile-only consumer booking application, Hopper is perhaps better known for its predictive analytics and suite of travel protection and fintech products (including flight and hotel price freeze, flight delay protection and fully refundable fares and rates) that it offers through its application and other third-party channels (including Capital One’s travel marketplace and recently, Amadeus and its network of travel agencies, metasearch sites and other travel sellers). This latest round of financing (which now brings Hopper’s total financing to $585 million) will be used to accelerate growth (including internationally) and to add much needed staffing to its customer support team. According to Co-Founder and CEO, Fred Lalonde, Hopper expects its 2021 year-over-year revenue growth to exceed 300 percent, with first quarter revenue expected to exceed its prior quarterly peak (Q1 2020) by 100 percent.

Flash Sales: Love Them or Hate Them
(“Trip.com Launches Weekend Flash Deals,” August 17, 2021 via Emsf-Lisboa)
Trip.com ran its flash sales in the U.K., offering UK travelers a 30 percent rebate on domestic hotel stays. The rebates are being offered in the form of “Trip Coins,” which can be used for future travel booked on Trip.com. Time to check those contracts.


Other news:

Former Orbitz, Vacasa Execs Invest in Group Travel Planning Platform TrovaTrip
August 19, 2021 via phocuswire.com
Portland-based startup TrovaTrip has raised $5 million to grow its group travel planning platform. PSL Ventures led the round, with participation from Elevate Capital and Oregon Venture Fund. Barney Harford, former CEO of Orbitz Worldwide and former COO of Uber, and Eric Breon, founder of Vacasa, also participated in the financing.

Choice Hotels, InterContinental Settle Keyword Antitrust Case
August 16, 2021 via bloomberglaw.com (subscription may be required)
Choice Hotels International Inc. and an InterContinental Hotels Group Plc affiliate have reached confidential settlements resolving antitrust litigation over their alleged role in a scheme to prop up prices by rigging online search advertising, according to federal court filings in Texas.



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Online Travel Update: Travelport and Amazon Web Services announce travel startup accelerator; recent studies reveal Generation Z’s online travel preferences | Foster Garvey PC


Where did summer go? It was another quiet week in the online travel world, though I expect things may pick up in the weeks ahead as everyone returns from their summer breaks. Enjoy.

Travelport and Amazon Web Services Announce Travel Startup Accelerator
(“Travelport Teams With Amazon Web Services to Support Travel Startups,” September 2, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Recently, Travelport and Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of a travel startup accelerator designed to provide travel entrepreneurs access to data and channel expertise, potential supplier partners (including hotels) and prospective travelers. The inaugural session will feature 10 travel startups with a focus on digital marketing and personalization. Judges will include representatives from American Express GBT, Internova and Priceline.

Recent Studies Reveal Generation Z’s Online Travel Preferences
(“What do Gen Z travelers want from online travel brands?” August 31, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
Generation Z travelers, those born between 1997 and 2021, are the focus of several recently issued traveler studies, including a recent study conducted by Phocuswright Research. According to the studies, Generation Z travelers (who have never experienced life without readily available internet access) are increasingly likely to rely on online travel resources (particularly, OTAs) for travel inspiration, planning and booking. Of particular note, although this generation has less brand loyalty and are less likely to belong to loyalty programs generally, enrollment in OTA loyalty programs is higher with this demographic than just about any other generation. The Phocuswright study also noted that this generation is more open to booking travel through other unique intermediary options like Google or travel membership services. What are Generation Z travelers looking for when they plan travel? The studies reveal inclusivity, diversity, sustainability, and safety and security take the highest priority.



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Online Travel Update: Expedia Group and Booking Holdings’ Q2 earnings releases witness slight recovery in bookings | Foster Garvey PC


Expedia Group
(“Expedia Group Q2 revenue tops $2B driven by U.S. hotel and vacation rental bookings,” August 6, 2021 via Phocus Wire) (“Expedia Awaits Comeback of International Travel to Solidify Market Share Gains,” August 5, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)

  • Second quarter revenue increased to $2.1 billion (a 270 percent increase over the same period last year, though still down 33 percent over 2019)
  • Leisure travel continued its rebound in the second quarter, led by North America and in particular, the United States.
  • Expedia continues to see softness in international, corporate and “big city” travel.
  • Expedia is already seeing the negative effects of the Delta variant with production numbers softening in July over June.
  • Expedia has begun ramping up its sales and marketing efforts, with total second quarter sales and marketing expenses ($1.2 billion) exceeding expenses for the same period last year (2020) by 320 percent.
  • Expedia’s focus on its core brands continues with eight businesses shuttered or sold since the start of 2020. This past quarter, Expedia officially accepted American Express’s offer to purchase Egencia, which is now expected to close by the end of this year (2021).

Booking Holdings
(“Booking Holdings hits $22B in bookings as latest quarter rides recovery,August 4, 2021 via Phocus Wire)

  • Second quarter revenue increased to $2.2 billion (a roughly 350 percent increase over the first quarter in 2020, but still down 44 percent over 2019)
  • Like its major competitor, Booking also began ramping up its sales and marketing efforts this past quarter, with sales and marketing expenses totaling more than twice the amount from the earlier quarter.
  • Booking’s continued performance rebound was again led by increases in the United States (the strongest performing major country), though improvements in both domestic and international bookings in Europe contributed to the increase. Like its competitor, Booking experienced a slight downturn in July (when compared to June), which Booking attributes to the emerging Delta variant.
  • Sixty percent of the total room nights booked through Booking during the quarter were through mobile channels.
  • At the end of June, Booking.com reported approximately 28 million accommodation listings, with nearly a quarter of those listings constituting alternative accommodations.
  • Booking.com’s facilitated payment platform added several (unnamed) “major chains” in the second quarter. In the second quarter, nearly 24 percent of gross bookings were processed through the payment platform (which reflects only a minor increase over the first quarter percentage (22 percent)).
  • CEO Glenn Fogel offered few details about Booking’s recently reported discounted flash sales effort (see story).

Other News:

Booking Holdings Sees Connected Trip Strategy as Critical for Post-Crisis Growth
August 6, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
The world’s travelers may not all be for the taking by Booking Holdings. The $86 billion Connecticut-based conglomerate calls itself the “world’s leading provider of online travel and related services.” But the company still has work to do on its machinery for taking the customers it has and cross-selling them with multiple products — so called connected trips.

Tripadvisor Hits $235M revenue, Beats Internal Expectations
August 6, 2021 via Phocus Wire
Tripadvisor is crediting increasing numbers of vaccinations and reopenings in many markets around the world for a major jump in revenue in the second quarter of 2021.

Tripadvisor Finetunes Its Subscription Travel Bet
August 6, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
Tripadvisor has spent the pandemic changing its tune, metaphorically speaking. For years, the Massachusetts-based company run by co-founder and CEO Stephen Kaufer sang the praises of a model where consumers could read reviews of travel services and then either click away to book them or else book instantly through its site and app. Now the $5 billion company has moved away from trying to draw the largest audiences possible to instead woo its most loyal fans into coughing up money for exclusive discounts and perks on travel.

Google Launches Attractions Tickets Globally on Mobile
July 30, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Google has taken a major step into the tours and activities space, and rolled out a tickets feature for local attractions around the world on mobile devices.

Southwest Lawsuit Alleges Skiplagged and Kiwi Collude to Deceive Flyers
August 3, 2021 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Citing multiple flight delays because of the sale of “hidden city tickets,” Southwest Airlines filed a federal lawsuit against New York-based Skiplagged, and alleged that it works “in concert” with Czech-based online travel agency Kiwi.com to deceive the public and illegally use the airline’s fare information.

Vietnamese Tech Conglomerate, OTA Operator Raises $250 Million
August 2, 2021 via Phocus Wire
Vietnam-based VNLife, a technology company that operates in travel, banking, retail and more, has raised $250 million in Series B funding. The round is led by General Atlantic and Dragoneer Investment Group, with participation from PayPal Ventures, EDBI and existing investors GIC and SoftBank Vision Fund 1.



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Online Travel Update: Trivago and Kayak take different approaches to address metasearches; Fareport Holdings drops antitrust suit against JetBlue; Sonder prepares for expected rebound in corporate travel | Foster Garvey PC


In a Win for Travel Suppliers, Online Travel Company Fareportal Holdings Drops Antitrust Suit Against JetBlue
(“Travel Site Owner Drops JetBlue Antitrust Suit,” July 29, 2021 via Law360 – Competition) (subscription may be required)
Follow up to a story we’ve been following for the past few months…last week, Fareportal Holdings Inc. (owner of online travel site CheapOair) voluntarily dropped its claims against Jet Blue alleging that the airlines’ refusal to provide the OTA with access to JetBlue’s fares and other content (and instead directing travelers to book air travel directly with JetBlue) violated U.S. antitrust laws. According to Fareportal Holdings, its decision to drop the claims (without any settlement or compromise by JetBlue) was motivated by its decision to focus instead on its core mission of serving customers (PR agency speak for “our claims had no merit and were destined to failure.”)

Sonder Prepares for Expected Rebound in Corporate Travel
(“Sonder Targets Business Travel by Partnering With Expedia’s Egencia, TripActions and Others,” July 28, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Alternative accommodations provider (and soon to be public company), Sonder, announced last week that it has reached agreement with travel management companies Egencia (soon to be part of American Express) and TripActions, and GDS providers Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport to make its largely apartment inventory available to the Travel Management Company (TMC)’s and Global Distribution System (GDS)’s corporate clients and platform users. While challenges remain for Sonder as it seeks to transition to corporate travelers (including satisfying the strict identification verification requirements often associated with short-term rentals that may require finicky corporate travelers to download a separate mobile application), Sonder’s move into the corporate travel segment mirrors the efforts of other short-term rental companies (e.g., Sentral f/k/a Daydream Apartments) seeking to appeal to non-leisure travelers.

European Commission Seeks Greater Transparency from Google
(“Google told more transparency needed in flight and hotel prices regulator,” July 28, 2021 via Phocus Wire)
At the urging of some of Google’s largest advertising customers in travel (including Booking.com and Expedia), the European Commission is requesting changes to Google’s display of flight and hotel prices. Specifically, Google is being asked to provide travelers additional information on how Google’s search results are ranked (including details on how payments to Google might affect the results) and sufficient pricing detail to allow travelers to easily calculate final fares or room prices. Google has been given two months to make the requested changes.


Other News:

Ryanair Calls on Customers to Always Book Direct Amid Fraudulent Discount Scam and Overcharging by OTAS
July 28, 2021 via Travel Daily News
Ryanair called on customers to always book directly on the Ryanair website or App following further evidence of anti-consumer practices by certain Online Travel Agents (“OTA”s).

Charting the Rise of SPACs in Online Travel
July 27, 2021 via Phocus Wire
The travel unicorn landscape has been turned on its head in the past 18 months by the pandemic as well as the rise of public listings via special purpose acquisition companies (SPAC). Travel and Mobility Tech (TNMT), which tracks companies in the space, recently revealed the growth of unicorns in travel from 22 in 2018 to 45 at the end of 2019 and 49 at the end of 2020.

Expedia Down, Airbnb up for Bookings for Some Hotels in Europe and Asia
July 26, 2021 via Phocus Wire
An analysis by D-Edge Hospitality Solutions finds that while online travel agencies remain the dominant source of online revenue for its client hotels, in the last five years, the share of bookings coming through OTAs is down 11 percentage points in Europe and 14 points in Asia.



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Humankind tips guide | PC Gamer


Looking for some Humankind tips to get you started? While Amplitude’s so-called Civilization killer bears a lot in common with the famous 4X series, there are a fair few differences to get used to when you sit down to your first game. There are Cultures, Era Stars, Civics, Tenets, Ideological Axes—even as an Endless Legend player I found myself a little lost at first.

No wonder, then, that Humankind features a whole stack of in-game video tutorials explaining how every mechanic works. But even then, some things do fall through the cracks. You’re likely to have to keep returning to the videos for answers, and honestly, nothing kills the magic more than having to watch video tutorials before you’ve even properly started playing the game.



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Online Travel Update: Tripadvisor Plus announces initial hotel partners for its subscription service, and Booking Holdings reveals more details around their planned fintech business | Foster Garvey PC


It was a relatively quiet week in the online travel world. Booking’s announcement last week about its launch of a new fintech business spurred several additional stories last week, two of which are included in this week’s Update. Enjoy.

Much Ado About Nothing: Tripadvisor Plus Announces Initial Partners  
(“Tripadvisor Plus Signs Its First Hotel Chains But Those Missing Are a Bigger Story,” June 14, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Recently, Tripadvisor announced that it had signed its first three hotel groups to its subscription service, Tripadvisor Plus: Barcelo Hotels, Millennium Hotels and Pestana Hotel Group. While these three groups represent an additional 500 new hotels for the service, Tripadvisor Plus has yet to convince any major supplier to join the service. Tripadvisor claims it continues to have many “positive conversations” with major suppliers about the service, though, at least publicly, nothing has yet come from those “conversations.” Until then, Tripadvisor will have to continue relying on rates and inventory sourced from other intermediaries like Trip.com, Getaroom and Internova. Suppliers wishing to avoid the new subscription service will need to remain vigilant in their efforts to monitor and possibly curtail the onward distribution practices of these (and other) existing distribution partners.   

Additional Details About Booking Holdings’ Planned Fintech Business Emerge  
(“Booking Holdings’ New Fintech Unit Aims to Help Travelers Beat Banks at Their Own Game,” June 9, 2021 via Skift) (subscription may be required)
In a recent interview with Skift, Booking Holdings’ new fintech boss, Daniel Marovitz, shared additional details about company’s plans for the new business unit. According to Marovitz, the new unit is intended to drive additional bookings, allow travelers to pay when and how they wish (using a variety of currencies and payment plans) and, of course, provide new revenue streams for Booking. According to Marovitz, elements of the new business are already being piloted across the Booking Holdings’ portfolio of companies. We will continue to watch how this new business unit continues to evolve, how suppliers respond to the new unit – and, ultimately, should suppliers waiver in their support of the new unit and its tools, how Booking forces suppliers’ use of the tools by conditioning participation in its traditional distribution platforms. Facilitated payments are just the beginning…


Other News:

Expedia in Latest Exit From Hospitality Tech Sells Alice
July 14, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
Booking Holdings exited its hospitality tech business several years ago, and now Expedia Group seems to have done likewise by off-loading its Alice hotel operations platform. ASG, a unit of Alpine investors, announced Wednesday that it acquired New York-headquartered Alice, which provides a backend operations platform to hotel staff, from Expedia Group in a “carve-out transaction.”

Fintech, Superapps and Subscriptions Will Spur Flurry of Online Travel Copycats
July 14, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
In its rough outlines, Expedia begot Trip.com Group while Kayak and ITA Software begot Google Travel. Get ready for a flurry of clones in fintech, superapps, and subscription services in travel.



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