Beginning with this edition, we’ve rebranded the name of our weekly Update from “OTA & Travel Distribution Update” to “Online Travel Update.” Why, you ask, did we change the name that has served us so well these past five years (yes, it has been more than five years since we launched our weekly Update)? Well, the new name reflects both the fact that our client mix continues to grow, with several high-end bespoke tour operators and cruise industry members added to our online travel portfolio, and that the work we do for these diverse clients has evolved well beyond traditional B2C online travel agent (OTA) contracts. Wholesale (B2B) distribution, search, metasearch, payment methods, privacy, tax, connectivity, e-commerce and website, and application development and operation have all become an important part of our travel practice. While we will continue to focus on stories involving the OTAs, you should also expect to see updates on these other critical substantive areas. We hope you enjoy, and always welcome your thoughts and feedback.
PhocusWire 2021 Hot Startups: Meet Kyte
(“Hot 25 Startups 2021: Kyte,” November 9, 2020 via Phocus Wire)
Our second story featuring the PhocusWire 2021 Hot Startups highlights airline (B2B) distribution solution, Kyte. U.K.-based Kyte is one of several recent startups seeking to leverage the new distribution capability (NDC) to provide airlines the ability to offer flights and other ancillary products and services to consumers or third-party distributors. Current users of Kyte’s solution include British Airways, Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific and American Airlines.
This week’s Update features a variety of stories, including the first of many upcoming profiles of PhocusWire's 2021 Hot Travel Startups focused on distribution and online travel. Enjoy.
JetBlue to Distribute Short-Term Rentals
(“JetBlue to Debut Short-Term Rentals as Part of Its Growing Non-Air Offerings,” November 11, 2020 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Short-term rentals – the apparent darling of leisure travel during the COVID-19 pandemic – continue their march to legitimacy. Last week, JetBlue announced plans to add short-term rentals to its existing non-air portfolio of products and services. The new inventory will be provided by a to-be-named partner, but customer service will be handled directly by JetBlue (and not the supplier partner.) Potential supplier partners identified by JetBlue include Airbnb and Expedia’s Vrbo.
It’s earning season, and this week’s Update features a number of stories detailing the quarterly earnings releases from several of the largest online travel agencies (OTA) and global distributions system (GDS) companies. We’ve also included copies of the quarterly releases for both Expedia and Booking.com. Enjoy.
Tripadvisor Explores a Consumer Subscription Program
(“Tripadvisor to Launch Its First Subscription Plan for Travelers,” November 6, 2020 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
Last week, Tripadvisor CEO Steve Kaufer announced during the company’s third-quarter earnings call that the review/metasearch/booking site is planning to introduce a paid consumer subscription program that would provide subscribers discounts on hotels and attractions, and other possible benefits (e.g., unique experiences). Although details of the program are still being finalized, Kaufer claimed that the program would be complimentary to suppliers’ existing loyalty plans. This new consumer-oriented program would supplement Tripadvisor’s existing subscription plans for hotels and restaurants, including the recently introduced reputation management program.
Last week was relatively quiet on the distribution front. Enjoy.
Tensions Between Google and Booking.com Become Public
(“Booking.com and Google Clash in Europe as Regulators Target Both,” October 29, 2020 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
It is somewhat of an understatement to say that Google’s growing interest in travel has garnered the attention of a few of its largest advertisers. Over the past year, representatives of the largest OTAs, namely Expedia and Booking, have been increasingly vocal with their “concerns” about Google and its practices. Rcently, Booking made its views about Google even clearer, when it declined to lend support to Google’s campaign to oppose EU regulatory action directed at online “platforms.” In the words of Booking, “Our interests are diametrically opposed.” While Booking’s recent comments may have been motivated primarily by its effort to avoid being viewed by EU regulators as an online “gatekeeper,” it is quite clear that Booking would like nothing more than to sit on the sidelines while its former “partner” faces the scrutiny of regulators alone.
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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.