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Posts from May 2023.

For those of you in the United States, I hope you enjoyed your long holiday weekend – the unofficial kickoff to summer. Our weekly Online Travel Update is below.  It’s been a few weeks since we featured a story on banks’ growing influence in travel, but this week’s Update includes stories on two large banks – Australia’s CommBank and JP Morgan Chase.  Highlights include:

    • Booking’s Plan Purchase of Etraveli Runs into Regulatory Objections.  For some time now, we have been following Booking’s planned purchase of flight-booking platform, Etraveli.  This past April, the European Commission announced that it was re-commencing its review of the planning acquisition after several months of delay.  This week, sources familiar with the investigation reported that the Commission was poised to issue a statement of objections to both companies detailing the Commissions’ anti-trust concerns.  While such a statement may not kill the planned purchase, it may require the companies to offer compromises to the identified concerns. 

    • JP Morgan Chase Details Growing Travel Platform.  JP Morgan Chase shared an update on its travel platform,, this past week at an investor day.  According to Chase, total sales volume on the platform totaled $8 billion in 2022 and it expects that number to increase to $10 billion this year.  The number of travelers who purchased travel through the platform increased 40% year over year.  Travel is a critical component of Chase’s lifestyle business, which also includes shopping and dining. 

    • Hopper Announces Partnership with Australia’s Largest Bank.  CommBank, Australia’s largest bank, announced this past week that it was partnering with Hopper (via Hopper’s B2B platform, Hoppercloud) to exclusively power the bank’s new travel features, offering users of its mobile application the opportunity to search and book hotel, air and rental cars.  As part of the partnership, Hopper will offer CommBank users price predictability, integration with CommBank’s loyalty awards program (earn and redeem) and the usual mix of fintech products and services. 

As evidenced by our list of stories, it was a relatively quiet week in online travel.  The Texas Attorney General’s Office and its pursuit of hotel companies over their resort fee practices garnered most of the industry’s headlines (exactly as the Texas AG wanted). Some highlights from this week:

    • Following Its Settlement with Marriott, Texas AG Targets Hyatt.  With a settlement in hand with Marriott, the Texas Attorney General is now targeting other national hotel brands and operators with claims that their rate and resort fee practices violate Texas consumer protection laws.  In announcing the settlement, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton stated, “Marriott is now taking proactive steps to promote price transparency.  In contrast, other major hotel  chains have defended their deceptive practices, and they will be facing the full force of the law for their actions.”  Apparently, Hyatt is next on the Texas AG’s list as the AG’s office filed suit on Monday against Hyatt. 

    • Fact or Fiction:  Instant Booking for Meetings and Events.  For some time now, we’ve been working with clients to move their sales and contracting practices for small meetings and events to online platforms (both proprietary and third party) with the promise that small meetings and events can be booked instantly.  But do these tools really work?  Is that what meeting planners and groups really want?  Or do the many nuances of a successful meeting or event (as compared to a rooms only leisure booking) make them too difficult to book entirely online?  This past week, Skift, offered its perspective on these instant booking platforms. 

For those of you attending the upcoming week of events in Toronto (HSMAI’s Commercial Strategy Week), I would enjoy connecting.  I’ll be presenting on Monday at the Executive Roundtables and facilitating that afternoon the discussion at the Chief Distribution Officer roundtable.  I hope to see you there!

Welcome to our weekly Online Travel Update. Expedia’s many announcements at its Explore 23: Connect conference this past week garnered most of the industry headlines, while Uber moved closer to becoming a full online travel booking platform. Recent news highlights include:

    • CWT Partners with’s Booking for Business.  Want to participate in’s corporate booking platform, for Business?  You may have no choice now.  CWT and announced last week a new partnership under which CWT will provide the corporate booking platform discounted (and perhaps, loyalty program) rates and inventory for its suppliers’ hotels, flights and rental cars.

    • Uber to Offer Flights to UK Users.  Users of Uber’s transportation booking application in the UK will soon be able to search and book flights.  Powered by Hopper, the new functionality will include Hopper’s signature fintech products, including Prize Freeze and Cancel for Any Reason.  Uber plans to roll out the new offering across the UK this summer with no announced plans to introduce the offering outside the UK.

    • Expedia Announces Several New B2B Initiatives.  At Expedia’s Expedia 23:Connect conference held this past week in Seattle,  Expedia announced several new B2B initiatives, including a new partnership with Mastercard that allows issuers of the cards to allow users to redeem credit card loyalty program points for travel products and services offered through Expedia.  Other announcements at the event include the launch of Expedia’s travel operating system (Travel OS), whose first commercial “micro-service” will help users protect against fraud, the launch of Expedia’s guest experience score, the launch of new rate management capabilities for those suppliers using Expedia’s optimized distribution (OD) platform and the launch of new capabilities for travel agencies using Expedia’s Travel Agent Affiliate Program (TAAP).  For those of you wanting a more intimate view of last week’s Connect event, we’ve included a story about the event from Seattle’s own technology newsletter, Geekwire.

Our weekly Online Travel Update for the week ending Friday, May 5, 2023, is below. We hope you enjoy:

    • Airbnb Releases Summer Update.  Airbnb garnered much of the industry’s attention this past week with a series of announcements related to its release of its latest (summer) update.  The update includes a number of important changes to the platform and the booking experience, including (i) a renewed focus on individual (cheaper) private rooms (“Airbnb Rooms”) with each listing featuring additional information about the room’s host, (ii) the addition of new, streamlined check-out instructions that are displayed prior to booking, (iii) “transparent” pricing (more on that later), (iv) discounted rates for longer lengths of stay or direct debit payments and (v) improved customer support.  In a likely effort to address growing calls for regulation limiting the use of mandatory fees (i.e., cleaning fees), Airbnb’s release includes pricing toggles that allow users to view the total price (rate plus mandatory fees, excluding taxes).  As many of us know, these types of toggles are used today by several major lodging operators and thus far have not satisfied regulators’ call for pricing transparency.

    • EU Gatekeeper Process to Begin.  For those of you who read our earlier stories about the EU Digital Markets Act (DMA), you’ll likely recall the significance of the DMA’s “gatekeeper” designation.  Under the DMA, gatekeepers, which are large online platforms whose size allows them to act as private rule makers, will be prohibited from engaging in certain behavior.  Of particular interest to our readers is whether will receive the designation.  If it does receive the designation,, among other things, will be prohibited from requiring any form (narrow or broad) of rate or availability parity from its suppliers throughout the EU.  Potential gatekeepers have until July 3 to provide required details about their core services to the EU Commission.  The Commission then has until September 6 to decide whether the company satisfies the gatekeeper requirements.  Designated gatekeepers will have 6 months to comply with the DMA’s requirements.

    • American Airlines Seeks to Shut Down Use of Re-shopping Technology.  Over the years we’ve included a number of stories detailing re-shopping services – automated services that continuously monitor previously booked fares and rates and then automatically cancels and re-books flights and accommodations when the fares or rates drop.  American Airlines has apparently had enough with these services.  Last week, the airline announced that advisors that use the services after June 1 will be subject to debit memos or have access to certain American Airlines content cutoff.  Additional penalties might also include suspension or termination of advisors’ authority to sell the airlines’ fares.  Terms and conditions of the policy were distributed to advisors via an addendum to the advisors’ agency agreement and added to customers’ contracts of carriage (which applies to all customers). 
    • Resort Fees and Other Mandatory Charges.  Changes are coming.  With Marriott’s rollout of display changes later this month, expect the change by Marriott (which many view as the gold standard on issues such as these) to be followed by noticeable changes by other industry suppliers in their display of rates.  What about OTAs, you ask?  Perhaps changes by Marriott and other industry members might finally force aspiring attorneys general and regulators to take a hard look at OTAs.  Maybe.  Let’s hope.

Our weekly Online Travel Update for the week ending April 28, 2023, is below.  It was another relatively quiet week in the online travel industry, with Hyatt garnering much of the attention with its end of week announcement regarding its planned purchase of Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  Enjoy.

    • Hyatt Acquires Booking Platform – Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  On Friday, Hyatt announced that it has reached agreement to purchase boutique hotel booking platform, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  The platform provides direct booking access to over 1500 independent, boutique hotels around the world, including hotels in 20 countries where Hyatt currently has no presence.  With its purchase, Hyatt will ultimately be able to add 1500 hotels to its existing booking channels and thereby offer its loyalty program members (and those 1 million plus members of Mr. and Mrs. Smith) even more destination alternatives.  The purchase is expected to close in the second quarter. 

    • Washington State Passes Privacy Legislation.  Just another state setting out on its own until federal legislators step in to finally get serious about national data privacy?  Not exactly.  As many of you know, privacy and data security play a prominent role in just about every online relationship, which is why we are covering this new legislation here.  While the title of Washington’s recently enacted “My Health My Data Act” might suggest that it applies exclusively to sensitive to health information, Erin Snodgrass (our newest hospitality industry team member) explains why such an interpretation is likely wrong. 

    • Choice Hotels Join Groups360’s GroupSync Marketplace.  Add Choice to the list of major brands to endorse Group360’s online group booking tool – GroupSync Instant Booking.

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About the Editor

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.

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