Three of the four stories we feature in this week’s Update detail recent or ongoing examinations by competition regulators of the trade practices of several online travel platforms. Relatedly, we also include again a link to our FAQ regarding the recently enacted European Digital Markets Act (DMA). We expect to have similar updates on the Digital Services Act (the DMA’s sister legislation) out shortly. Enjoy.
India’s MakeMyTrip Fined for Anti-Competitive Behavior
(“MakeMyTrip and OYO Fined for Anti-Competitive Behavior,” October 21, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
In a press release issued last week, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) announced that it levied fines of $27 million against online travel agent, MakeMyTrip, for abusing its dominant market position. The fine is in addition to mandated behavioral changes. The CCI’s investigation (which ran from 2017-2020) examined MMT’s contracting (rate and availability parity and exclusivity) and marketing practices. Relatedly, OYO Hotels & Homes was fined $20 million for its agreement with MMT, which according to regulators, “adversely affected competition.”
It was another relatively quiet week in the online travel world, as evidenced by the stories below. The one obvious exception was the European Commission’s final publishing of the much-discussed Digital Markets Act (DMA), which now becomes effective next month. My colleague Eva Novick (who leads our privacy and data security practice team) prepared a very helpful FAQ for those of you wondering whether the DMA might apply to you. Even if the DMA does not apply to you directly, it likely will apply to one or more of the online platforms that you use (or may use in the future) – most notably, Airbnb and Booking.com. Enjoy
Booking Holdings Presses Ahead With Etraveli Acquisition
(“Booking Holdings Notifies Etraveli Deal for E.U. Approval,” October 12, 2022 via MLex Insights) (subscription may be required)
Following its recent receipt of the UK’s CMA’s approval of its proposed acquisition, Booking is now pushing ahead and seeking formal approval of the acquisition from the EU. As part of its review, the EU will be seeking input from a variety of industry members. For those of you not familiar with Etraveli, its brands include Gotogate, Mytrip and Flightnetwork, all of which provide search, booking and fulfillment products and services for flights. Booking Holdings already works with Etraveli to provide Booking its air offerings, and with the purchase, Glenn Fogel (C.E.O. of Booking Holdings) hopes to make users’ booking of flights even more seamless (all part of Glenn’s “connected trip” initiative).
As you can see from the list of stories, it was a relatively quiet week in the world of online travel, with Booking.com garnering most of the attention. From my perspective, as Booking.com gets closer to delivering on Glenn Fogel’s vision for a “connected trip” (accommodations, air, activities, diverse payment platform), Booking.com will soon become the dominant player in online travel. Enjoy.
Booking.com Expands Experience Offerings
(“Booking.com Taps Klook to Broaden Experiences Offerings,” October 4, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
Last week, Booking.com announced that it had entered into a strategic partnership with tours and activities platform, Klook. The partnership will soon allow users of Booking.com to access and book tours and activities in 175 cities across 30 markets. The announcement comes on the heels of similar prior activities additions by Booking.com (Viator and Musement in 2021 and 2020, respectively) and its sister company, Priceline (Musement in 2022).
This week’s Update covers a variety of topics, including persistent rumors regarding a possible Sabre sale and proposed new federal regulations governing airline fee disclosures that may one day serve as a foundation for similar regulations for hotels. Enjoy.
Rumors Around a Possible Sabre Sale Persist
(“Sabre Quietly Looks to Shed Hotel Software Unit,” September 28, 2022 via Skift) (subscription may be required)
Last week we featured a story detailing discussions from earlier this year regarding a possible sale by Sabre of its hotel software business. According to Skift, the source of last week’s story, prospects of such a sale has largely diminished. This past week, Skift, doubled down on the previously reported Sabre rumors, noting that six industry professionals had anonymously shared rumors of the possible Sabre sale with Skift since June.
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.