What started out as a relatively quiet week in the distribution world ended with a flurry of activity and announcements (some were expected and some were not). I hope you enjoy.
Booking.com Expands Its Product Offerings for U.S. Travelers
(“Booking.com launches flight search and booking in the U.S.,” October 22, 2020 via Phocus Wire)
As of October 15, U.S. travelers can now search and book airline tickets on Booking.com. This latest news comes on the heels of several recent announcements by Booking.com and its parent company, Booking Holdings, including last week’s public announcement about Booking.com abandoning its core BookingSuite products. Many users in the United Kingdom and other countries in the EU have had access to the airline offerings for close to a year, though much of the transaction to purchase tickets was handled by a third party. In contrast, U.S. users will complete the transaction entirely on the Booking.com site. Facilitated payments, corporate and managed travel and now airline tickets…What’s next for Booking.com?
Travelers Seeking Increased Transparency
(“Skyscanner, Expedia, Hopper on need for transparency in travel retailing,” Oct 14, 2020 via Phocus Wire)
In a recent roundtable held at the Open Industry Summit: The New Reality of Flight Shopping hosted by APTCO, online platforms Expedia, Skyscanner and Hopper emphasized that today’s travelers are seeking more than ever critical information about destinations’ pandemic status and suppliers’ health and safety practices, and flexible booking terms. At times, these “new” factors can be equally or even more important than price. Recognizing the systems challenges associated with providing much of this “new” information, the intermediaries stressed the importance of suppliers making this information as simple as possible.
This week’s Update features two stories on the growing (temporary?) phenomenon of using hotel guest rooms and other public spaces for those seeking an alternative arrangement to working from home and how those new remote work locations are being distributed. If this trend continues, it won’t be long until distributors (either new or existing) begin featuring this new form of inventory. Enjoy.
Hotels and Co-Working Companies: An Inevitable Combination
(“Hotels Partnering With Co-Working Companies Signal a Pandemic Trend Could Be Here to Stay," Oct 6, 2020 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
As hotel owners and operators desperate for revenue have offered their rooms to first responders, the homeless, those quarantining and even prison inmates, it should be no surprise that these same owners and operators are now partnering with co-working companies to offer their otherwise unoccupied rooms and empty public spaces to far more tame work-from-home employees. In late September, Proper Hospitality partnered with co-working provider Industrious to bring “work-from-hotel” offerings to Proper’s hotels in Austin, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Next, Proper plans to expand those offerings to its additional Southern California properties. Proper is just one of several traditional lodging (or gaming) companies (e.g., MGM, Mandarin and CitizenM, which we covered in a prior post) exploring the space, though Proper is one of the first lodging brands to partner with an experienced and well-known co-working provider. Although the partnership is scheduled only to run through mid-December, many feel that this partnership is likely a sign of things to come.
With this week’s Update, we welcome Amazon back to the distribution discussion with its recent introduction of Amazon Explore. Enjoy.
OTA Insight Introduces Parity Certification Program for Distributors
(“OTA Insight launches Parity Certification Program for Distributors, Sep 29, 2020 via Hospitality Net - Latest Industry News)
Great idea in theory, but will the largest distributors actually use it? Recently, OTA Insight, the cloud-based distribution data platform, announced the launch of its Rate Parity Distribution certification program. With a focus on system controls, applicable contract requirements and legal requirements, the program assesses whether a distributor is in compliance with applicable rate parity protocols and best practices. Participation is open to all distributors. While certification may appeal to new or fledgling distributors (perhaps as a differentiator), I question whether the largest distributors will ever voluntarily open their parity practices to review by a third party. More to come.
This week’s Update features a variety of stories, including the big three industry players, Trip.com, Expedia and Booking.com; the always insightful update on the current status of airline distribution; and details on CitizenM’s recent introduction of a subscription plan for corporate travelers. Enjoy.
Booking.com Bullish on Long-Term Prospects of Short-Term Rentals
(Booking Holdings CEO Sees Greater Traveler Awareness in Alternative Accommodations as a Long-Term Boon,” Sep 22, 2020 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
With approximately 6.7 million short-term rental listings on its platform, Booking.com hopes to make the most of travelers’ growing interest in alternative accommodations. Booking Holdings President and CEO, Glenn Fogel, believes the pandemic-induced interest in short-term rentals will remain for many years to come and should position Booking.com well against its online rivals. While demand continues to grow for short-term rentals, creating the supply needed to meet such demand has been challenging. According to Fogel, onboarding its millions of rental properties has cost far more than onboarding traditional guest rooms accommodations. As the demand for short-term rentals continues to rise (and is anticipated to remain long after the pandemic subsides), one might expect to see traditional lodging operators giving rentals a second look.
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.