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Posts from June 2024.

This week’s Update features a variety of stories – STRs, algorithm leaks and Hilton campgrounds (sort of):

    • Las Vegas Price-Fixing Case Is Appealed.  A few weeks ago we reported on a Nevada federal district court’s (second) dismissal of a class action case brought against Las Vegas’ hoteliers’ over their use of certain Cendyn revenue management tools.  Not surprisingly, the plaintiffs have now appealed the court’s dismissal to the Ninth Circuit, the first such appeal of the several algorithmic cases currently pending against hoteliers.  A decision by the appeals court is not expected until 2025.

    • Booking.com Focused on U.S. STRs.  When it comes to short term rentals (STR), European online travel agent Booking.com is now taking a U.S. first approach.  During the first quarter of 2024, STRs accounted for 36% of all bookings on the platform.  To appeal to U.S. consumers, Booking is particularly focused on payments, liability insurance and its damage policy.  Families (however defined) are making up a larger and larger portion of users interested in STR bookings.

    • Air France – KLM Again Delays Introduction of GDS Surcharges for TMCs.  Fourth time the charm?  Air France – KLM has announced a further delay in its planned introduction of a €21 surcharge for corporate bookings made via legacy GDSs.  Why the additional delay?  Perhaps a lesson learned from American Airlines aggressive approach?  According to the airline, the delay is needed to resolve “issues” and to “support our partners.”  Last summer the airline removed all short-haul flights from GDS channels, reserving those routes for NDC connections.

    • Hilton RVs Officially Launched.  This one is of personal interest.  Not actually “Hilton” RVs, but close.  Users of Hilton’s booking channels can now search and book accommodations (RVs, tents, etc.) at several AutoCamp locations (Yosemite, Russian River, Cape Code, Joshua Tree, etc.).  Hilton Honors members can also earn and redeem points for their AutoCamp stays.  Having been part of similar efforts in the last few years, I can only imagine the discussions within Hilton as it considered the effects of adding this new non-hotel inventory to its regular online offerings – OTAs, wholesalers, loyalty program, etc. 

American Airlines’ decision to soften its approach on distribution with travel agents and advisors garnered most of the industry’s attention this week.  Otherwise, the holiday week for many was relatively quiet.  Enjoy.

    • Another Quarter and Another Staggering Amount Spent on Sales and Marketing.  According to their first quarter financials, the “Big Four” online travel agents (Expedia Group, Booking Holdings, Airbnb and Trip.com Group) spent a staggering $4.08 billion in sales and marketing in the first quarter of this year (a 10% increase over the same period last year).  How do these amounts compare to companies outside the online travel industry?  In the first quarter, the Big Four outspent their industry counterparts by a factor of 4 – when measured as a percentage of overall revenue (9.2% vs. 37%).     
    • A Few More Carrots Than Sticks:  American Airlines’ About Face.  Facing cuts in its financial forecasts, American Airlines announced this past week that it was moderating its historically aggressive NDC rollout.  According to American CEO, Robert Isom, the airline’s financial misses were due, in part, to its misguided sales and distribution strategy.  Going forward, American will seek to incentivize agencies’ and advisors’ use of its NDC platform as opposed to penalizing those who don’t.  As part of its newly announced change, American is reversing one of the most controversial aspects of its NDC campaign, the withholding of American Advantage loyalty benefits on bookings made through non preferred NDC advisors.   
    • Travel Technology Association Holds Its First Policy & Innovation Showcase.  Members of the Travel Technology Association held its first Policy & Innovation Showcase this past week for members of Congress and the media.  Companies presenting and/or hosting this event included Sabre, Airbnb, Tripadvisor, Expedia, Booking Holdings, Amadeus, Travelport and Chase Travel Group.  Issues currently on the Association’s agenda include the reform of the Communications Decency Act (Section 230), the American Privacy Rights Act and ancillary fee transparency.  According to comments by Association CEO Laura Chadwick, all travel companies are becoming technology companies. 

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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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