Hopper Focuses on Hotel Bookings
("Hopper ramps up hotel booking with global private rates and price tracking," Phocus Wire on Jun 20, 2019
Over the past few years, we have featured a number of stories about Hopper and its many successes – though primarily in airline bookings. Now, Hopper is seeking to leverage some of that success in its pursuit of hotel bookings. Hopper currently features over 270,000 hotels worldwide and sources rooms from those hotels through both intermediaries and direct supplier relationships. Armed with its price predictive technology, Hopper claims to be able to provide users accurate rate forecasts for the hotels it features as well as unique “private” rates that are otherwise unavailable. Unlike typical booking channels, which generally promote and market their offerings broadly, Hopper derives 90% of its bookings through personalized “private” push notifications that are powered by Hopper’s personalization AI.
The latest OTA & Travel Distribution Update features a number of stories highlighting ongoing or recently resolved regulatory complaints or investigations. Enjoy.
Nustay Seeks EU Regulatory Review
("Expedia, Booking.com targeted in EU antitrust complaint by Nustay," MLex Insight, June 11, 2019)
Dutch booking platform, Nustay, filed a complaint last week with the European Commission alleging that the practices of Expedia and Booking.com illegally restrict competition in the market. The alleged practices at issue include imposing severe consequences (e.g., reducing a hotel’s ranking or transferring the hotel to Booking.basic (Booking.com only)) on hoteliers that seek to offer more competitive prices through alternative (including Nustay) channels, which Nustay alleges, constitutes enforcement of a “new type” of wide parity requirement.
This week’s Update features an important story on possible changes to keyword contracting practices (or at least a new argument as to why existing practices are no longer appropriate). Enjoy.
Dutch Authorities Scrutinize Keyword Restrictions
("Booking.com and peers may face Dutch scrutiny of ad deals with hotel chains," MLex Insight, June 7, 2019)
In a study issued last week, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets examined hotel booking platforms’ (Agoda, Booking.com, Expedia and others) practice of agreeing contractually with hoteliers not to post advertisements in response to searches featuring the hoteliers’ keywords (i.e. keyword restrictions). According to the Authority, such restrictions are likely to lead to higher prices on websites, which ultimately harms consumers. Although the study did not identify plans for a formal investigation or recommend sanctions, those of you seeking keyword restrictions (or seeking amendments to existing restrictions) should expect to hear a lot about this.
Airbnb Begins Integration of Traditional Lodging Products
("Airbnb Tests Hotel Integration by Adding Some HotelTonight Partners," Skift Travel News, May 29, 2019)
As a critical first step in its integration of the newly acquired HotelTonight, Airbnb has begun adding limited hotel inventory from some of HotelTonight’s hotel partners. At the same time, Airbnb has eliminated guest fees on new hotel listings (making the site more competitive with the host-only fee models of Booking.com and Expedia) and begun cross promoting its hotel inventory on both the Airbnb and HotelTonight platforms. Although full integration of the HotelTonight inventory on the Airbnb platform will take time (and require the platforms to reconcile their many differences), many believe it is only a matter of time before the former exclusively alternative accommodation platform transforms itself into fully fledged online distribution channel. Only time will tell...
Washington employers are likely aware of Washington Paid Family & Medical Leave Act ("PFMLA") and the recently passed amendments, but they may have some lingering questions. This post seeks to answer those questions to ensure employers are in compliance and remain in compliance when benefits begin January 1, 2020.
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.