This could be a pivotal week in online travel agency and hotel relations as Monday is the deadline for Expedia and Hyatt to reach a new distribution agreement. Meanwhile, Trivago is running on all cylinders — or more specifically, its advertising is seemingly playing on every TV channel you turn on — and elsewhere travel demand on a global scale for airlines, hotels, and tech companies appears to be having a very healthy moment.
Here’s what’s going on in Travel This Week — What To Expect:
Judgment Day For Expedia and Hyatt
I expect that the Expedia-Hyatt deal will get done, and we will hear about the successful conclusion of the talks sooner rather than later. Anything can happen before a new contract is signed, but I’m hearing that there will be no monumental crisis, no break in the Expedia-Hyatt relationship.
Both Expedia and Hyatt were being coy — in other words, not talking much to the press or even to Hyatt property owners — in the days leading up to the end of their existing distribution agreement on Monday. Hyatt is looking for a contract that doesn’t leave it too disadvantaged versus big-kid and bulked-up Marriott and others when it comes to the compensation Hyatt must dole out to Expedia.
You might see these likely scenarios over the next few days: An announcement of a new agreement and how the Expedia-Hyatt partnership has never been niftier, and that’s an outcome that I’m hearing is the most likely. On the other hand, there is always the possibility of word leaking out about an extension in the contract talks; or Hyatt property listings suddenly becoming like a proverbial needle in a haystack on Expedia sites.
If Hyatt properties disappear on Expedia en masse, it will be interesting to see if individual Hyatt property owners buck the trend, defy their parent, and strike unilateral deals with Expedia. That could very well happen.
Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi didn’t mention the word “Hyatt” when asked about Expedia’s various hotel negotiations Thursday during an earnings call, but said: “I’m not going to characterize specific negotiations one way or the other, other than saying obviously having the best hotel supply and the greatest breadth and depth of hotel supply is of real interest to us. At the same time, as we add more and more hotels and properties into our marketplace, the import of any single hotel or single brand grows less. So we feel pretty good about our position.”
He continued: “And frankly, we feel good about our production for our partners. It continues to grow. We feel good about our share. We’re becoming a more important part of our hotel partners’ kind of portfolio and business on a global basis. And we will look to balance both margins and growth and supply, and we’ll do so on a go-forward basis.”
Hyatt quietly signed a new deal with Booking.com in June as an Expedia insurance policy in case things go nuclear this week. Hyatt will release its second quarter earnings on Thursday, so we should definitely get a feel for whether push came to shove by then.
Boom Times For Travel?
As more travel companies, including Trivago, Hyatt, Wyndham, Red Lion, Choice, Sabre and others announce earnings this week, you can expect reports of strong travel demand on virtually a global basis. That’s because last week Expedia reported strong travel trends, including ample room night growth, “in every major region.” Air-France-KLM disclosed that Asian and U.S. tourists were returning to France after the terrorism woes of recent years. And global distribution system Amadeus in Madrid indicated that its airline bookings, particularly in Latin America and Asia-Pacific, were flying high.
There are exceptions, of course. Tourism authorities in Ireland, for example, are saying that visitations from currency-beleagured UK travelers post-Brexit are down in the dumps.
IPO Done, Trivago Can Keep Downplaying Profits
We already know from Expedia Inc.’s second quarter results that subsidiary Trivago, the hotel search engine, which will report earnings on Friday, is continuing on its growth tear.
Expedia has already reported that Trivago achieved a milestone in the second quarter: The hotel-metasearch site exceeded $1 billion in revenue in the trailing 12 months for the first time. While Trivago saw its revenue jump 64 percent in the second quarter to $328 million, its profits fell 78 percent to $2 million.
Now that the Trivago IPO is out of the way and the company doesn’t have to be as concerned about showing potential investors a profit, it can focus on top-line growth — and its founders believe that this opportunity will be there for years to come.
More Dirt from Red Lion on Suit Against Hard Rock?
As with other hotel chains that report earnings this week, we should hear more tidbits from Red Lion when it releases results on Thursday on its efforts to drive bookings to its websites — in Red Lion’s unorthodox case, with an assist from Expedia. But we’ll also be interested in leaning more about parent company Red Lion Hotels Corp.’s lawsuit against Hard Rock International, alleging theft of intellectual property.
The banter from Red Lion hasn’t risen nearly to the level of Anthony Scaramucci versus Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon, but Red Lion officials have indeed been surprisingly candid about their gripes.
What’s Next for Airbnb?
Skift hospitality editor Deanna Ting will take a look at Airbnb’s journey, whether it is on an inevitable road toward an IPO, and what it all means for everyone involved at Airbnb and the wider hotel industry. Watch out for her feature later this week.
Wyndham Business Lines and Loyalty
When Wyndham releases its financial results on Thursday, we’ll be looking to see what progress it is making in leveraging its three divisions, namely hotels, timeshares and vacation rentals. And what new developments are in store for its loyalty program, which the hotelier has been vehemently working on scaling?
Royal Caribbean To Shed Light on China and Cuba
Royal Caribbean Cruises releases financial results on Tuesday. The call should provide an update on the closely watched China cruise market, which has been experiencing a slowdown amid tensions with South Korea. We also hope to hear what kind of demand the operator is seeing for Cuba trips in the wake of the Trump administration’s recently announced restrictions on travel to the island. Because cruise lines are still allowed to visit Cuba, some operators have suggested they might have an advantage.
Sabre CEO Sean Menke’s Footprint
Sabre plans to reveal its second quarter results Tuesday, and this marks a half year since CEO Sean Menke as been running the show. The industry will be watching for hints about what kinds of changes the new guy is making to the company.
What’s the progress on the rollout of Sabre’s new desktop reservations systems for travel agents? Is Sabre making inroads into any particular geographic markets, like India, for example? Are there any hints about trends in corporate travel demand? Perhaps there will even be an analyst question or two about how the data breach at Sabre’s hospitality division impacted the company.
Skift Editors Sean O’Neill, Hannah Sampson, and Deanna Ting contributed to this report.
Read the rest of our Travel This Week — What To Expect posts here.