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OTA & Travel Distribution Update: German and French antitrust authorities examine effects of pricing algorithms on competition; TripAdvisor announces joint venture; Alibaba and Accor collaborate to attract Chinese travelers

Algorithms Under EU Scrutiny
(“Algorithms might raise collusion concerns, Franco-German study says,” MLex Insight on Nov 8, 2019)
As many of you probably already know, algorithms are the heart and soul of most online travel booking platforms (if you doubt me, just try asking for details about property rankings.) The antitrust authorities from Germany and France recently released a joint study examining the effects of algorithms on competition. In particular, the study focused on the relationship of pricing algorithms and horizontal collusion, and how the market dominance of certain platforms (including online travel agencies) may affect the algorithms used. If anyone would like a copy of the study, please let us know.

Prelude to Something More? and TripAdvisor Strike a Deal
(“TripAdvisor forms joint venture with Group, reports decline in Q3 revenue,” Phocus Wire on Nov 7, 2019)
For sometime now, TripAdvisor and its future have been the subject of much speculation and conjecture. The announcement by Group and TripAdvisor earlier this month regarding their “strategic partnership” may provide a glimpse of things to come for the review/metasearch/booking platform. On the heels of releasing its disappointing 3Q results this month, TripAdvisor announced that it had entered into the joint venture (TripAdvisor China) to improve its position in China, which among other things, provides’s portfolio companies access and use of the TripAdvisor brand and content, and the opportunity to purchase 6.95 million TripAdvisor shares. What this might mean to those who currently license TripAdvisor content or list their properties on the platform is unclear, but it may be time to pull out your contracts and examine any redistribution or assignment provisions.

Another Alibaba Collaboration Announced
(“Accor and Alibaba Form Partnership to Attract Chinese Travelers,” Skift Travel News on Nov 7, 2019)
In early November, Accor and Alibaba announced that the two companies would partner over the next five years to build digital applications and loyalty programs directed at Chinese travelers. As part of the deal, Alibaba will assist Accor in the rollout of its newly announced loyalty program, ALL. At the same time, Accor is also rolling out its Chinese certification program “Hoake,” which is designed to ensure that its participating properties incorporate Chinese language, Chinese food, Chinese-speaking staff and other tailored services in their operations. This latest announcement follows Accor’s launch of its flagship store on the Fliggy travel platform in 2016.

Other news:

U.S. Supreme Court to Consider Blocking Trademark
Reuters - Business News on Nov 8, 2019
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider a bid by a federal agency to prevent the popular hotel reservation website, a unit of Booking Holdings Inc , from trademarking the site's name, contending that it is too generic to deserve legal protection.

Booking Holdings Survives SEO headwinds, Reports Financial Growth
Phocus Wire on Nov 8, 2019
Gross bookings increased 4 percent year-over-year to $25.3 billion, while net income soared 10 percent to $2 billion.

Google’s Travel Gains Levy Pain at TripAdvisor and Expedia
Skift Travel News on Nov 7, 2019
The fact that Google is leveraging its dominance as a search engine into taking market share away from travel competitors is no longer even debatable. Expedia and TripAdvisor officials seem almost depressed about the whole thing and resigned to its impact.



  • Greg  Duff

    Greg is Chair of the firm's national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism practice, which is directed at the variety of matters faced by hospitality and travel industry members, including purchase and sales agreements, management ...

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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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