Skift Take

This week in digital news, we concentrated on Expedia. The online travel agency axed its price-matching guarantee and CEO Mark Okerstrom has a plan to become number one in the sector.

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines digital trends.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>Group hikes, river cruises, and other multi-day tours are still primarily booked offline through travel agents or direct with the operators. But future bookings of these tours will likely be digital despite the complexity. It’s a tough sector, and TourRadar hopes to be well-positioned as the trend gains ground: TourRadar Raises $10 Million as Solo Female Travelers Turn to Tour Bookings

>>Expedia’s move seems odd, as hotel chains ramp up their direct-booking campaigns that include best-price guarantees. Our guess is that the company tested and found that most consumers are no longer swayed by price-matching offers. Or perhaps there was pressure from ongoing probes in Europe: Expedia Axes Its Price-Matching Guarantee in a Sharp Break From the Past

>>Consumers’ perception on the accessibility of luxury brands is shifting through their daily, almost intimate interactions with both luxury products and the influencers who tout them on social media: Luxury Getting Increasingly Democratized Through Social Channels

>>Hotels have years to go before guests will routinely be unlocking guest room doors with their mobile apps. Even then, it could be just a gimmick unless hotels make it part of a broader guest-experience enhancement: Smartphones Open Hotel Rooms at Luxury Properties But That Should Be Just the Beginning

>>Klook’s rapid growth suggests that a growing number of Chinese and other Asian outbound travelers want to travel independently, instead of in groups, and thus book their activities a la carte. That portends a sea change in the travel industry: Tours and Activities Site Klook Secures $60 Million Round as Goldman Sachs Invests

>>Hopper said it is on track to process about $500 million in gross bookings — a number much larger than actual revenue — this year. Its expansion into hotel bookings would bring fatter commissions and hopefully more engagement. But the company will go up against better-funded players. All bets are off: Airfare App Hopper Enters HotelTonight Turf With Hotel Expansion

>>Expedia’s fast-growing hotel search site Trivago may see its pace of growth stall as both Expedia and rival The Priceline Group have pulled back on spending. This is an extraordinary development given the fact that Trivago was one of Expedia’s growth engines and there was seemingly no end in site: Growth Juggernaut Trivago Sees Revenue Slump Coming as Biggest Customers Pull Back

>>It makes sense for Uber to enter the credit card and loyalty arena. This card could be a solid alternative for frequent travelers who don’t want to shell out a large annual fee: Uber Enters the Loyalty Game With New Credit Card

>>It should be no surprise that the new Expedia CEO, who Barry Diller claims to have selected without conducting a wider candidate search, would have his own ideas about where to take the $22 billion company. Okerstrom is even talking about a path for Expedia becoming number one in online travel. That’s definitely something we haven’t heard publicly articulated in awhile: New Expedia CEO Just Became His Own Guy in Outlining a New Strategy

>>While venture capital funding of startups has dropped steadily since 2012, there are still ideas investors find worth funding, including those for short-term rental management, event venue marketplaces, and hotel distribution: GuestReady Raises $3 Million for Airbnb Rental Management: Travel Startup Funding This Week

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Tags: digital, Travel Trends, trends roundups

Photo credit: Expedia's new CEO Mark Okerstrom just held the company's third quarter earnings call. 168872

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