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Last week’s Update features a variety of stories, including updates on several platforms that we don’t routinely cover – Kakao, Agoda and Trip.com. Enjoy.

Kakao Expands Ride-Hailing Offerings
(“Kakao Mobility Partners With Splyt to Expand Transportation App,” May 13, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
Last week, South Korean mobile platform Kakao announced a new partnership with Splyt, which will expand the platform’s ride hailing services to seven additional Asian countries. Users of the app can access taxis, private cars and motorcycles. Users of the expanded app will also have access to a variety of payment platforms, including micro payments.

Last week was all about loyalty as we saw a number of stories on the new roles that technology and online platforms are playing for hoteliers seeking to update and expand (or even launch) their loyalty programs. We include three of those stories in this week’s Update. Enjoy.

Technology Powers Loyalty Program Growth
(“IHG introduces new loyalty program,” April 13, 2022 via Hotel Business)
 (“Tech is powering the new look of hotel loyalty programs,” April 16, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
(“Fintech to Help Smaller Hotel Brands Like Selina Launch Rewards Cards,” April 13, 2022 via Skift) (subscription may be required)
This week, we feature three separate stories detailing the important role that technology (and online platforms) is playing in updating existing and launching new loyalty programs.

    • In recent weeks, both IHG and Accor have announced major updates (in the case of IHG, a complete overhaul) to their loyalty programs. In the case of IHG and its new IHG One Rewards program, the program is centered on IHG’s mobile application and now allows members to customize the rewards they receive through another online platform, Milestone Rewards. The newly constituted program, including Milestone Rewards, is expected to be available in June. Accor also recently announced changes to its loyalty program Accor Live Limitless (ALL) through a new partnership with online entertainment platform Fever, which will allow members to use their loyalty program benefits to book a variety of activities and experiences.
    • Lastly, Skift explains how fintech startups are allowing smaller hotel and travel companies (Selina) to launch new co-branded payment cards (to boost their fledging loyalty programs) in under a month. In Selina’s case, its planned card will feature cash rewards for signing up, loyalty program points and cash rebates for hotel stays. 

This week’s Online Travel Update features a variety of stories, including a follow up story on Uber’s ongoing transition from ride hailing app to super app. Enjoy.

Groups360 Raises an Additional $50 Million
(“Groups360 attracts $35 million, plots group travel platform expansion,” April 8, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
Groups360 announced recently that it raised an additional $50 million in funding. The group booking platform was started in 2014 and in 2019, received a $50 million investment from hoteliers Accor, IHG, Hilton and Marriott. Groups360 plans to use this latest investment to further its expansion across EMEA and APAC. Groups360’s main offering, GroupSynch, allows users to book guest rooms and meeting rooms entirely online – similar to competing online offerings from CVENT (Instant Book), Hotelplanner and others. From our perspective, the first company to offer reasonable contracting terms that recognize hoteliers’ concerns generally regarding online distribution, will likely have a huge advantage.

The United Kingdom's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued a Statement of Objections this Tuesday alleging that industry giants Booking.com, Expedia, Inc. and InterContinental Hotels Group violated the UK’s Competition Act of 1998. The Statement of Objections will not be made public, but from OFT’s comments, its rate parity and best rate guarantees that are causing the trouble.

Room Key, a brand new player in the on-line hospitality market, launched in beta on January 11, 2012 to some excitement and some hard questions. Room Key is a joint venture among six U.S.-based hotel chains—Choice Hotels International, Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels*, InterContinental Hotels, Marriott International* and Wyndham Hotel Group—that allows users to search for available rooms at almost all of the chains’ global properties, or about 23,000 rooms total. More Kayak than Expedia, users search the Room Key site for inventory and are then redirected to the individual property (or chain’s) home site to complete booking. The idea is to drive traffic to the hotel websites and away from on-line travel agencies (OTAs) like Expedia, Priceline, and Travelocity. And, of course, to provide a customized, personable hotel booking experience to the user--and who better to do that then a group of hoteliers--says CEO John Davis.

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Greg Duff
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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