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This week’s Update features a variety of stories, including updates on CWT and Booking.com. Enjoy.

CWT Tests NDC
(“CWT Launches NDC Initiative,” July 22, 2022 via Travel Weekly)
Corporate travel platform, CWT, recently announced plans to pilot an NDC offering that would allow travel advisors to book NDC content from Air France-KLM and Singapore Airlines. Amadeus and Sabre will power the new content rich offerings. Advisors using the platform will have access not only to traditional corporate discounted rates, but additional unique content like paid seats, excess baggage and carbon offsets. CWT expects to offer additional airlines later in the year. While we’ve written in the past about major airlines’ efforts to make NDC content available to the major GDSs, this is one of the first examples of that content now making its way into the hands of travel advisors. 

With the Fourth of July holiday falling on Monday, last week was a relatively slow week in the online travel industry. Enjoy.

Booking Holdings Poised for a Rebound?  
(“Booking Holdings Stock Down 25 Percent in 2022, What's Next?,” July 8, 2022 via Forbes) (subscription may be required)
Forbes thinks so. At $1,788 per share (off its last high of $2,461) and with 2022 booking trends continuing to look positive, Booking’s stock may be ready for a significant rebound (as high as $2,328 according to Forbes). Forbes is estimating total revenue for the current fiscal year to top $16.3 billion, which would be a 49 percent year-over-year improvement.

Like prior weeks’ Updates, this week’s Update features stories on the growing phenomenon of fintech and its effect on the travel industry. Enjoy.

Dissatisfaction With Expedia Directors
(“Do Travel Agents Matter in Online Travel? Expedia Thinks So,” June 22, 2022 via Skift (subscription may be required)
Skift recently featured an interesting article describing apparent shareholder dissatisfaction with certain of the online travel giant’s board members. The dissatisfaction (expressed through withheld votes in connection with Expedia’s recent annual shareholders’ meeting) was focused on board members Chelsea Clinton, Craig Jacobs, Dara Khosrowshahi and Beverly Anderson. While there isn’t any information detailing the reasons for the withheld votes, Skift speculates it may relate to shareholder concerns with executive compensation, depressed share price or even the political views of the targeted board members.

This week’s Update features a variety of stories, including updates on Sabre’s attribution sales efforts and the growing importance of Booking.com’s mobile application in the U.S. Enjoy.

Sabre Moves Forward With Attribution-Based Sales
(“Sabre on Hospitality Marketplace Development, Attribute Selling,” June 14, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
For some time now, clients have complained that Sabre’s (and other GDS providers’) innovation efforts have largely been focused on airlines, leaving hoteliers to fend for themselves with the old legacy GDS platforms. According to Sabre, that “airline-first” approach may soon change as Sabre continues its efforts to launch its new intelligent retailing platform. According to Sabre’s Senior Vice President of Sabre Hospitality Solutions, Frank Trampert, Sabre’s new platform will allow hoteliers to create personalized offers like those found on traditional retail websites (e.g. Amazon). Hotel rooms will remain central to the platform, but other ancillary amenities and services will be available for booking at the same time. This month, Sabre plans to introduce 23 features as part of the platform’s initial product test. Pilots of the platform will begin in October with a general release of the platform scheduled for early 2023.

This week’s Update features stories on Hopper and its latest fintech offering, Agoda’s new “eco” oriented discount program and Expedia Group’s Peter Kern’s summer travel plans (watch the video). Enjoy.

Leave Anytime: Hopper’s Latest Offering
(“Hopper Will Let Customers Pay a Fee to Leave the Hotel After Check-In for Any Reason,” June 7,2022 via Skift) (subscription may be required)
Don’t like your hotel or the room you received? No problem. Hopper has a solution. Hopper announced its latest fintech offering, which allows guests in exchange for a fee paid to Hopper at the time of booking, to leave their hotel at any time for any reason following check-in. Guests electing to leave their original hotel can then book an alternative hotel with Hopper covering the costs. Hopper estimates the price for this new option to average $30.00. Hopper claims that it will pay the fees and charges owed the guest’s original hotel, though one can foresee a future where Hopper becomes a formidable adversary disputing hotel charges on behalf of their allegedly disgruntled guests. With this latest announcement, Hopper also announced the expansion of several of its existing offerings, including the expansion of its cancel for any reason product into hotels and its price freeze product into rental cars.

This week’s Update features two stories detailing fintech’s growing influence on online travel. Regular readers of our Update know that we’ve featured a number of fintech and payment related stories this past year, with multiple stories on Hopper, Booking.com and its much discussed payment platform, Visa, and others. And if you need any further proof of the growing influence (or likely future influence) of payments on online travel, one only need to review the list of regular readers of our online travel blog on JD Supra, which reads like a who’s who of the payments world – American Express, Capital One, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Deutsche Bank. I hope you enjoy this week’s Update.

Musafir Partners with Mastercard to Launch Innovative Payment Options
(“UAE-Based OTA Musafir Signs with Mastercard,” May 27, 2022 via Business Travel News)
Three weeks ago, it was Agoda announcing its partnership with Visa. Last week, Dubai-based online travel agent Musafir announced its own exclusive partnership with Mastercard. According to the announcement, the parties will work together to “digitize payment flows,” launch new innovative payment products and provide expense management tools for Musafir’s corporate customers. Musafir claims to be the region’s first O.T.A. with 1800 businesses participating on its business booking platform.  For more details on the growing influence of fintech products on online travel, make sure to read the story below from Wit, detailing Amadeus’ recent Travel Fintech Investment Trends 2022 report.  

Last week’s Update continues the theme of providing updates on a few lesser known distribution platforms – this week we feature Latin American distributor, Despegar, and Central and Eastern European distributor, the Szallas Group. Enjoy. 

Jury Supports U.S. Air Claim That Sabre Monopolized the Airline Booking Industry, But…
("Sabre Illegally Monopolized Airline Ticket Booking Market but U.S. Airways Gets Just $1.00 in Damages, U.S. Jury Concludes," May 19, 2022 via MLEX Insight)(subscription may be required)
A N.Y. federal court jury found last week that Sabre used exclusionary conduct to maintain its monopoly in airline distribution to the detriment of U.S. Air, BUT (and it is a large, BUT), the jury also found that Sabre did not unreasonably restrain trade and that U.S. Air was entitled to only $1.00 in damages. Recall that this was the second trial in this matter, with the first resulting in a $15 million award against Sabre. The original award was overturned on appeal, following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding similar two-sided platforms (both supplier facing and travel agent facing). What this decision and the $1.00 award might mean for Sabre (or those airline or hotel suppliers currently contracting with Sabre) in the future, are unknown.

Tags: Marriott, OTAs

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.

After a few quiet weeks, last week produced a number of stories that caught our attention and made it into our weekly Update, including two interesting stories on customer reviews. Enjoy.

Booking.com Adds Loyalty Program Benefits
(“Booking.com Adds a Third-Level of Benefits to Its Loyalty Program,” April 1, 2022 via Hospitality Net - Latest Industry News)
Booking.com announced last week that it was adding a new, third tier to its Genius loyalty program. Members qualifying for this new level will enjoy discounts of up to 20 percent (as compared to discounts of 10 percent and 15 percent for first tier and second tier members, respectively), free upgrades (at participating properties), free breakfast (also at participating properties) and priority customer support (with live service agents). With this latest announcement, suppliers should again expect a big push by Booking.com to grow the number of properties in its loyalty program. Market managers will be busier than ever in trying to convince individual properties to offer deeply discounted “Genius” rates. 

Google home pageGoogle recently updated its trademark policy, and although some believe the changes are cause for concern, citing increased costs per click, that may not be the case. The following aims to bring some clarity to the issue.

Google has consistently expanded its Google Ads policy in allowing trademark keyword bids and the use of trademarked terms in the text of advertisements. The tech giant has always expanded these policies by regions, and just last week, Japan was added to the mix.

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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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