Our holiday-abbreviated OTA & Travel Distribution Update is below. Happy Holidays.
Booking.com Agrees to EU Demands to Change Travel Offers
Reuters Technology on Dec 20, 2019
The European Commission said that Booking.com had committed to end “manipulative techniques” on its travel site, such as time-limits for making bookings.
Booking.com Building Connected Travel with Google Nest
Phocus Wire on Dec 20, 2019
Booking.com and Google Nest say guests and hosts are looking for more safety and security features when staying in private accommodations with smart technology potentially filling gaps.
What Barry Diller Told Anxious Expedia Workers About the Future
Skift Travel News on Dec 20, 2019
Expedia Group Chairman Barry Diller flew to Seattle to rally the troops. His message to all the employees around the world was, in essence, the sun will rise tomorrow at the travel giant. Impatient investors aren’t quite as sure. No, you’re not going to see Barry Diller sweat.
CCPA: Hotel Loyalty Programs, Data Retention and the Brave New World of Privacy
Hospitality Net - Latest Industry News on Dec 20, 2019
The California Consumer Privacy Act (the "CCPA" or the "Act") is a piece of consumer privacy legislation which was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on June 28, 2018, and goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
South Korean Competition Authority Takes a Hard Look at Parity
(“Comment: Use by online-travel agencies of MFN clauses under study by South Korean antitrust watchdog,” MLex Insight on Dec 5, 2019)
South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) is rumored to be considering possible antitrust enforcement action against the distributors Booking.com and Agoda over their use of contract rate parity provisions. An investigation of the distributors’ practices is currently under way, and the results of the investigation are expected to be released later this month. Also, under consideration are the market implications of broad versus narrow parity requirements. Stay tuned for further updates.
It should come as no surprise that stories detailing the unexpected resignations of Expedia’s top two senior executives are featured prominently in this week’s Update. Rather than just recirculating the usual industry reports, we thought we might offer a more localized (and detailed) view of the resignations. Oh yeah, we also decided to throw in a story about another Pacific Northwest company’s expansion of its closely watched travel experiment. Enjoy.
Okerstrom and Pickerill Out
(“Expedia’s two top execs pushed out as chairman Diller asserts control,” Seattle Times on Dec 5, 2019)
By all accounts we’ve seen, last week’s resignations of Expedia Group CEO Mark Okerstrom and CFO Alan Pickerill came as a complete surprise. What led to the sudden departures? Expedia Group’s dismal third quarter financial results? Differing perspectives on Expedia Group’s go-forward strategies? I’m not sure we will ever know all of the reasons for the resignations. A copy of Expedia Group Chairman Barry Diller’s text to Expedia Group employees immediately following the resignations is included in our Geekwire report. For now, Expedia Group will be led by Diller and Expedia Group Board Vice Chairman, Peter Kern. What this all means for Expedia Group’s hotel supplier partners is unclear, though if asked to speculate (which is all anyone can do at this point), I’d offer that it might be rough going in the near term. While Cyril Ranque appears to still be President of Expedia Group’s lodging partner services, it isn’t clear whether Ranque or even his role within the Expedia Group organizational chart will remain. Even if Ranque retains his position long term, we have no idea what influence Diller’s presence might have on Ranque and his approach to suppliers. We know firsthand that Okerstrom often got personally involved in the negotiation of key lodging partner agreements, and whether Diller is prepared to play a similar role (or even if not playing that role, how Diller might view Expedia Group’s supplier partners and the more moderate “cooperative” approach to key supplier partner relationships exhibited under Okerstrom’s leadership) is unknown. Buckle up everyone.
Need a Recipe? Ask Airbnb
(“Introducing ’Cooking‘ on Airbnb Experiences,” Hospitality Net - Latest Industry News on Nov 26, 2019)
Last Monday, Airbnb introduced “Cooking” on Airbnb Experiences. The new category of experiences allows travelers to book non-traditional experiential cooking classes hosted by families, farmers and other local hosts. The experiences category also provides access to more than 3,000 global family recipes vetted by Slow Food, a grassroots organization dedicated to preserving local foods and customs.
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.