Our holiday-shortened weekly Online Travel Update for the week ending Friday, November 25 is below. This week’s Update features (again) multiple stories on booking platforms planned roll out of new payment tools. We’ve also included a copy of the Legal Alert we circulated last week regarding the FTC’s planned rule making regarding resort fees. Interested industry members have a limited opportunity to submit comments to the FTC regarding any proposed rule.
Expedia Partners with Payment Application Afterpay. Expedia and buy now pay later payment app, Afterpay, announced this past week that Expedia’s flight and hotel inventory will now be available through Afterpay’s app. Users of the app will now be able to pay for their bookings in four interest-free monthly payments. According to Expedia, Afterpay is the first of many future similar partnerships. It will be interesting to watch how suppliers respond to these new flexible payment options, particularly with regard to discounted rate plans whose conditions include advance payment.
Fareportal Introduces New Cancelation Options. Users of Fareportal’s online travel agencies, CheapOair and One Travel, will now be able to cancel their air bookings for any reason, irrespective of what a carrier’s cancelation policy might provide (purchasers of non-refundable tickets may receive a refund up to 80% of the ticket price). Launched earlier this year (June) on CheapOair, the service is now available on One Travel and will be soon available on CheapOairCanada. Fareportal expects to announce additional “fintech” products and services in the months ahead.
Have a great week everyone.
Our weekly Online Travel Update for the week ending Friday, November 18, 2022, is below. This week’s Update includes Phocus Wire’s annual listing of its Hot 25 Travel Startups. The list always provides an interesting glimpse at what may be coming in the months and years ahead in online travel. Enjoy.
- Phocus Wire’s Hot 25 Travel Startups. Phocus Wire’s fifth installment of up and coming travel companies is here. This year’s list features a variety of companies, the majority of which (14 of the 25) were started since the COVID crises began. Over the next few weeks, we plan to take a closer look at a few of the listed companies that caught our attention.
- TripAdvisor Considering Plans to Revise TripAdvisor Plus. New TripAdvisor CEO, Matt Goldberg, is apparently considering options for overhauling its much-criticized travel subscription program, TripAdvisor Plus. As many will recall, the program received little support from the major lodging brands for fear of undercutting their own direct channel efforts and/or violating existing third-party channel rate parity obligations. According to Goldberg, TripAdvisor may drop the existing $99 annual membership fee. While dropping the membership may help address lagging membership numbers, TripAdvisor will have to address the concerns of suppliers whose participation (and inventory) will be critical to any hoped success.
- Is Uber the Next Online Travel Distribution Platform? Uber’s travel-related offerings are expanding. When initially launched in March, the program (Uber Explore) allowed users to book activities (and an Uber ride to the activities) sourced through Yelp. With its new partnership with TripAdvisor’s Viator (and other announced partners), Uber will add to the events and activities available on the app and expand the program to over 10,000 cities. Are events and activities a sign of things to come? Will users one day be able to book accommodations (and a ride to their selected accommodation) on the widely used application?
- Yet Another New Payments Platform is Coming. Add Amadeus to the growing list of distribution platforms planning to provide users new payment (fintech) options. Amadeus reports that it is making a “significant investment” in the launch of a new payment business, Outpayce. As part of its effort, Amadeus has applied to the Bank of Spain for an eMoney license, which would allow Amadeus to provide regulated banking services in the EEA, including issuing payment cards.
Have a great week, and for those of you celebrating this week, Happy Thanksgiving.
Good Sunday afternoon from Seattle . . . Our weekly Online Travel Update for the week ending November 11, 2022, is below. Booking Holdings features prominently in this week’s Update as its planned acquisition of Etraveli faces regulatory scrutiny. Enjoy
Readers of our weekly update know that resort fees and total (or all-inclusive) pricing are again in the news. While the FTC considers its plans for regulating resort fees and other mandatory charges, some industry members are proactively announcing their own total pricing plans. This past week, Airbnb announced plans to feature total pricing (including nightly rates plus cleaning fees and other applicable Airbnb fees and charges, but excluding taxes) at the beginning of users’ search process across the entire the rental platform (Airbnb already displays all-inclusive pricing where required in the EU). Similar all-inclusive pricing will be featured on the platform’s maps, property listings and price filter tools. Airbnb’s failure to disclose often sizeable cleaning fees until check out has been the subject of many social media complaints and criticisms of the rental platform. The changes are scheduled to take effect next month.
This week’s Update delves back into resort fees and includes a story detailing planned future regulation of the fees by the FTC. While resort fees may not technically be an “online issue,” potential federal regulation will definitely affect hoteliers’ online efforts and the efforts of the many online travel distribution platforms they use. Enjoy.
Biden Administration Announces Plan to Tackle “Surprise Fees”
(President Biden Targets Hotel Resort Fees in Larger Crackdown,” October 27, 2022 via Skift (subscription may be required)
In comments last week, President Joe Biden noted that his administration planned to crack down on “surprise fees,” which according to Biden, included specifically hotel resort fees. Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to initiate an administrative rule making process to address junk fees. The FTC is now seeking comment on the issue. Copies of the FTC press release and ANPR are attached. We will continue to keep our readers apprised of the FTC’s activities going forward.
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.