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Skift Take

Starwood’s decision to follow Marriott into TripAdvisor Instant Booking begs the question: How long with InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton Worldwide continue to be conscientious objectors? Hint: TripAdvisor officials say they are talking to everyone.

— Dennis Schaal

Starwood announced it would join sibling-to-be Marriott, as well as Best Western, Accor, Wyndham, Hyatt, Radisson, Choice and just about every other major chain except Hilton Worldwide and InterContinental Hotels Group, as a partner in TripAdvisor Instant Booking.

The feature enables consumers to book hotels on TripAdvisor without having to navigate to third-party hotel and online travel agency sites. Starwood, which will allow TripAdvisor to access the chain’s global portfolio, from Sheraton and Aloft to St. Regis and Design Hotels, would still be the merchant of record and handle customer service for these bookings on TripAdvisor sites. The partnership is not yet live.

However, Starwood would have to pay TripAdvisor a commission, a fact that means that its financials would be lower with TripAdvisor than for direct bookings on Starwood sites. Despite their TripAdvisor Instant Booking participation, chains such as Marriott International are committed to driving direct bookings to their sites by offering lower rates for rewards members than they give to online travel agencies, including TripAdvisor.

Hilton Worldwide and InterContinental Hotels Group, though, are so far holding out. They participate in TripAdvisor metasearch but not in its booking features.

TripAdvisor is offering Instant Booking partners, which also include Booking.com, Priceline.com and Agoda, more branding throughout the booking process these days than when TripAdvisor introduced the feature on mobile in June 2014.

“Travelers are reminded throughout the booking process that their reservation is powered by Starwood and are provided links and phone numbers to contact the hotel’s customer service associates directly; all support inquiries will be handled by Starwood’s award-winning customer care team,” the Starwood-TripAdvisor joint press release states.

Although Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood isn’t expected to close until around June or July, it was considered highly likely that Starwood would follow Marriott into TripAdvisor Instant Booking. Marriott signed up for the program in June 2015.

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