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Posts from April 2017.

This week’s OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending April 21, 2017 is below.  This week’s update contains a variety of stories, including a copy of the now much-publicized New York Times article detailing AH&LA’s campaign against Airbnb and Airbnb’s subsequent response.

Both the courts and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) seem to keep changing the definitions of joint employment. It is no wonder this has left employers scratching their head about the situation. The cause for this itch is the analysis differs depending on the law at issue. For example, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), various state employment laws defining “employees,” common law (guided by the National Labor Relations Act), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and workers’ compensation laws all have joint employer doctrines and associated tests that are slightly different from the others.

To demonstrate these differences, we will look at two of the most recent cases that modify the joint employer analysis under both the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the Fair Labor Standards Act (the FLSA). Both these cases define a test – but it is not the same test. Unfortunately, the lesson is that an employer or putative employer will not know whether a person is an employee for the purposes of a particular law without determining first what test should be applied for that law.

This week’s OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending April 14, 2017 is below.  Additional details regarding last week’s long-awaited report on online travel by the European Commission are featured in this week’s Update.

  • $1 Billion in R&D Spells Trouble for Hoteliers [OTA].  Those of you who have been receiving our updates for some time now likely recall the number of occasions where I have lamented the future of hoteliers’ homegrown internal distribution efforts.  I belief the last of these many laments followed Amazon’s announcement that its smart voice-controlled user interface (aka Echo) would soon allow users to confirm travel bookings on Expedia and even search for, and book, rental cars on Expedia.  Well . . .  Our first story highlights again the challenges that hoteliers will continue to face in the years ahead as Expedia continues to dedicate considerable resources (a billion of them) to ongoing research and development.  This week’s story features Expedia’s efforts in the virtual reality space as well as another shout out to the company’s ongoing efforts with Amazon’s Echo.  My point here remains the same as before.  As these distribution platforms continue to evolve (and dedicate billions to improving the consumer’s experience), they will become exceedingly difficult to compete with or ignore.  The historically adverse relationships between hoteliers and distributors must also evolve such that hoteliers find ways to work with distributors in order to remain current and relevant.  It may not take too long before people think first of “Alexa” when starting their travel planning process as opposed to Hilton, Hyatt or Marriott.  I’m stepping off my soap box now...

Expedia will soon let you try before you fly with VR hotel rooms
Mashable, April 11, 2017
Warning: Mini fridge privileges not included.

Below please find this week’s OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending April 7, 2017.  The recently released European Commission’s report on the hotel industry headlines this week’s Update. 

  • European Commission Issues Much Anticipated Report on Online Booking Industry [OTA/ANTI-TRUST].  Although we have yet to dig into the details of the Commission’s report, here is what we know:
    • The European Commission and 10 national competition authorities took part in the online hotel booking review, which was intended to examine the effectiveness of the variety of anti-trust enforcement measures adopted over the past few years to limit OTAs’ parity requirements (e.g. narrow parity and absolute parity prohibition).

Some interesting stories in this week’s GSB OTA & Travel Distribution Update (for the week ending March 31, 2017):

  • Restaurant Bookings Today, Hotel Reservations Tomorrow [SOCIAL MEDIA].  This week’s Chefs & Tech newsletter from Skift featured a story about Instagram’s recently announced plans to allow users to book an appointment (or reservation) directly from a business’s Instagram profile.  This new feature will be available over the next few months.  While Skift focused its piece on the implications for the restaurant industry (look out OpenTable and Yelp), I cannot imagine it will be too long before Instagram explores providing similar functionality to its hotel advertisers.  According to the report, approximately 8 million businesses (no breakdown as to the number of restaurant or hotels) currently maintain profiles on Instagram.  A new distribution / booking channel is born.

Chefs+Tech: Restaurant Reservations on Instagram Coming Soon
Skift Travel News, Mar 31, 2017
With the addition of reservations for advertisers, Instagram will reach customers as they're most engaged, offering convenient booking and instant ROI for businesses. -Kristen Hawley

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Greg Duff
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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