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This week’s Update features a story detailing recent progress with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). As the EU prepares for the full implementation of the DMA (and its sister legislation, the Digital Services Act), expect more stories in the future on these important pieces of legislation and what they might mean for the online travel industry. Enjoy.

E.U.’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) Moves Forward  
(“Digital Regulation Gets Go-Ahead in Europe,” July 29, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
The European Council approved the DMA earlier this month, and once signed by the President of the European Parliament and President of the European Council, the legislation will become effective six months later. While much as been written about the DMA and its many rules for large online platforms (so-called “gatekeepers”), its effect on the online travel industry remains unclear. Metasearch companies have applauded the DMA’s passage in the hope that the DMA curbs alleged market abuses by Google. Other industry members – particularly those identified as possible “gatekeepers” (both Booking.com and Airbnb) – have spoken cautiously in favor of the DMA and its stated goals while at the same time disputing their possible gatekeeper status. With a clearer path and timeline for the ultimate rollout of the DMA, expect to hear a lot more about the legislation and the changes coming to a travel platform near you.

This week’s Update features a variety of stories, including updates on CWT and Booking.com. Enjoy.

CWT Tests NDC
(“CWT Launches NDC Initiative,” July 22, 2022 via Travel Weekly)
Corporate travel platform, CWT, recently announced plans to pilot an NDC offering that would allow travel advisors to book NDC content from Air France-KLM and Singapore Airlines. Amadeus and Sabre will power the new content rich offerings. Advisors using the platform will have access not only to traditional corporate discounted rates, but additional unique content like paid seats, excess baggage and carbon offsets. CWT expects to offer additional airlines later in the year. While we’ve written in the past about major airlines’ efforts to make NDC content available to the major GDSs, this is one of the first examples of that content now making its way into the hands of travel advisors. 

It was another slow week in the online travel industry. Following up on our observations from a few weeks ago, we feature a story on banks’ now undeniable interest in travel. We also include a story on payments. This story is not our first story on payments, but it is an indicator of where we expect to spend more time in the weeks ahead. Enjoy.

Banks and Travel
(“Banks Look to Travel to Boost Customer Loyalty,” July 15, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
A few weeks ago, we noted banks’ growing interest in travel and travel related companies. If nothing else, readership of our distribution blog by banks and other financial companies has grown exponentially this past year. So why the interest? According to PhocusWire, the interest is primarily a loyalty play as banks seek to add a powerful (and currently, desirable) perk to their cardholders. Examples of these relationships include – Capital One and Hopper, Revolut and Expedia, U.S. Bancorp and TravelBank and JPMorgan Chase and Frosch. According to a recent loyalty survey conducted by Arriva, 63 percent of industry respondents plan to offer new travel rewards, including exclusive travel options and deeper discounts.

With the Fourth of July holiday falling on Monday, last week was a relatively slow week in the online travel industry. Enjoy.

Booking Holdings Poised for a Rebound?  
(“Booking Holdings Stock Down 25 Percent in 2022, What's Next?,” July 8, 2022 via Forbes) (subscription may be required)
Forbes thinks so. At $1,788 per share (off its last high of $2,461) and with 2022 booking trends continuing to look positive, Booking’s stock may be ready for a significant rebound (as high as $2,328 according to Forbes). Forbes is estimating total revenue for the current fiscal year to top $16.3 billion, which would be a 49 percent year-over-year improvement.

The “vacation edition” of our weekly Online Travel Update is below. Our regular Online Travel Update will be back next week.


Like prior weeks’ Updates, this week’s Update features stories on the growing phenomenon of fintech and its effect on the travel industry. Enjoy.

Dissatisfaction With Expedia Directors
(“Do Travel Agents Matter in Online Travel? Expedia Thinks So,” June 22, 2022 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Skift recently featured an interesting article describing apparent shareholder dissatisfaction with certain of the online travel giant’s board members. The dissatisfaction (expressed through withheld votes in connection with Expedia’s recent annual shareholders’ meeting) was focused on board members Chelsea Clinton, Craig Jacobs, Dara Khosrowshahi and Beverly Anderson. While there isn’t any information detailing the reasons for the withheld votes, Skift speculates it may relate to shareholder concerns with executive compensation, depressed share price or even the political views of the targeted board members.

This week’s Update features a variety of stories, including updates on Sabre’s attribution sales efforts and the growing importance of Booking.com’s mobile application in the U.S. Enjoy.

Sabre Moves Forward With Attribution-Based Sales
(“Sabre on Hospitality Marketplace Development, Attribute Selling,” June 14, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
For some time now, clients have complained that Sabre’s (and other GDS providers’) innovation efforts have largely been focused on airlines, leaving hoteliers to fend for themselves with the old legacy GDS platforms. According to Sabre, that “airline-first” approach may soon change as Sabre continues its efforts to launch its new intelligent retailing platform. According to Sabre’s Senior Vice President of Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Frank Trampert, Sabre’s new platform will allow hoteliers to create personalized offers like those found on traditional retail websites (e.g. Amazon). Hotel rooms will remain central to the platform, but other ancillary amenities and services will be available for booking at the same time. This month, Sabre plans to introduce 23 features as part of the platform’s initial product test. Pilots of the platform will begin in October with a general release of the platform scheduled for early 2023.

This week’s Update features stories on Hopper and its latest fintech offering, Agoda’s new “eco” oriented discount program and Expedia Group’s Peter Kern’s summer travel plans (watch the video). Enjoy.

Leave Anytime: Hopper’s Latest Offering
(“Hopper Will Let Customers Pay a Fee to Leave the Hotel After Check-In for Any Reason,” June 7,2022 via Skift) (subscription may be required)
Don’t like your hotel or the room you received? No problem. Hopper has a solution. Hopper announced its latest fintech offering, which allows guests in exchange for a fee paid to Hopper at the time of booking, to leave their hotel at any time for any reason following check-in. Guests electing to leave their original hotel can then book an alternative hotel with Hopper covering the costs. Hopper estimates the price for this new option to average $30.00. Hopper claims that it will pay the fees and charges owed the guest’s original hotel, though one can foresee a future where Hopper becomes a formidable adversary disputing hotel charges on behalf of their allegedly disgruntled guests. With this latest announcement, Hopper also announced the expansion of several of its existing offerings, including the expansion of its cancel for any reason product into hotels and its price freeze product into rental cars.

Last week’s Update features stories on two less frequently used social media platforms – Instagram and Snapchat – and details the brewing battle among banking companies for travel industry legitimacy. I hope you enjoy.

Tripscout Introduces Instagram Hotel Bookings
(“Tripscout Raises $14 million, Launches Hotel Booking Through Instagram,” June 3, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
Tripscout announced plans to launch a hotel booking platform accessed via Tripscout’s Instagram accounts. According to Tripscout founder and CEO, Konrad Waliszewki, users of the platform will have access to private / fenced rates 75 percent below best available rates. Users seeking to access the platform send a direct message with the word “hotel” to the applicable Instagram account, which then links the user to the booking platform where the user can search, review and book hotel listings provided via bed banks, OTAs and other suppliers. Tripscout claims to have 30 million regular users of its 100+ Instagram accounts.

This week’s Update features two stories detailing fintech’s growing influence on online travel. Regular readers of our Update know that we’ve featured a number of fintech and payment related stories this past year, with multiple stories on Hopper, Booking.com and its much discussed payment platform, Visa, and others. And if you need any further proof of the growing influence (or likely future influence) of payments on online travel, one only need to review the list of regular readers of our online travel blog on JD Supra, which reads like a who’s who of the payments world – American Express, Capital One, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank. I hope you enjoy this week’s Update.

Musafir Partners with Mastercard to Launch Innovative Payment Options
(“UAE-Based OTA Musafir Signs with Mastercard,” May 27, 2022 via Business Travel News)
Three weeks ago, it was Agoda announcing its partnership with Visa. Last week, Dubai-based online travel agent Musafir announced its own exclusive partnership with Mastercard. According to the announcement, the parties will work together to “digitize payment flows,” launch new innovative payment products and provide expense management tools for Musafir’s corporate customers. Musafir claims to be the region’s first O.T.A. with 1800 businesses participating on its business booking platform.  For more details on the growing influence of fintech products on online travel, make sure to read the story below from Wit, detailing Amadeus’ recent Travel Fintech Investment Trends 2022 report.  

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Greg Duff
Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs Foster Garvey’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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