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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.
Airbnb Says It Intends to Go Public in 2020: While $1 billion in revenue is impressive, it’s not the first time Airbnb has achieved the number. What matters for the homesharing platform is the growth narrative. Now that the timing of the company’s IPO is pegged for 2020, we know just how long we will have to wait to see how the storyline plays out.
Wholesaler Hotelbeds Cuts Ties to Booking Sites That Break Hotel Distribution Rule: The collapse last week of Amoma suggests that an industrywide crackdown on online travel agencies that violate hotel contracts is getting serious. For example, many hoteliers have wanted Hotelbeds to crack down on bad behavior by some agencies. The distributor of wholesale rates has responded by taking action.
Booking Holdings Reaffirms Plan to Charge Commissions on Hotel Resort Fees: Despite criticism and reports of misgivings, Booking Holdings will plow ahead with a groundbreaking policy of charging commissions on resort fees charged by hotels, said CEO Glenn Fogel. He said the move is aimed at discouraging hotels from providing bad customer experiences.
British Airways and Click Travel Pilot Automatic Payment System for Direct Booking: This is a good step for the industry, bringing tech improvements not just to the retail side but also to the companies managing the bookings through New Distribution Capability.
Travel Management Companies Finally See Upgrades to Payment Technology: Despite some of the progress that New Distribution Capability has made in recent years, travel management companies have missed out on many of the benefits. This new development from the International Air Travel Association should help modernize the old-school IT systems that many are using.
Beekeeper Raises $45 Million for Online Chat for Non-Desk Hotel Workers: To understand the startup Beekeeper, think of workplace communications tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams. The service helps hourly workers without desktop computers, such as housekeepers, stay up-to-date. The fresh funding underscores a recent boom in hotel tech investment.
Marriott and Expedia Exclusive Agreement Will Retake Control of Wholesale Rates: In an I-just-saw-an-elephant-fly moment, Marriott International will be directing businesses to Expedia Group to access certain Marriott wholesale rates. Bedbanks, tour operators, and smaller online travel agencies that play games with room rates are put on notice.
Expedia and United Agree to Multiyear Contract Avoiding Messy Divorce: United had previously stated that it’s a new era because of its mobile app and its ability to attract direct traffic to its websites. But the two parties found a way to come to terms.
Expedia CEO Is Unfazed by Airbnb’s Growing Vacation Rental Lead: Mark Okerstrom, the chief of Expedia Group, has high hopes for his recently rebranded homesharing unit Vrbo. But as competition intensifies in the segment, we’re wondering if we’ll be describing Vrbo (pronounced “VER-boh”) using active verbs or passive ones.
New Owner Airbnb Will Not Dilute the HotelTonight Brand, CEO of Booking App Says: Airbnb’s focus on adding independent hotels instead of all-and-sundry is a smart approach. The vacation rentals company made more than $1 billion in revenue for the second quarter and intends to go public during 2020. It can’t afford to meddle with the model.
Social Media Requirement for Visa Waivers May Have Chilling Effect on U.S. Tourism: International arrivals to the U.S. are slowing down, so the industry is right to worry that requiring travelers to disclose social media profiles as part of the online application for the visa waiver program could be viewed as unwelcoming.
Inspirato CEO Predicts Subscription Model Will Spur Followers in Luxury Travel: Introducing a subscription model to the travel industry could lead to a transformation in the way companies sell their products. On the other hand, it may be a challenge to get travelers to lock themselves into one brand over a period of time — unless, of course, there is an attractive perceived value.
Futurist Tobaccowala Warns Travel Marketers to Not Be Too Data-Driven: Advertising legend Rishad Tobaccowala lashes out at an over-dependence on data, and believes so-called FAANGs must be broken up. All this simply makes his forthcoming book, Restoring the Soul of Business: Staying Human in the Age of Data, a must-read for decision makers in travel.
TripAdvisor CEO Welcomes More Pressure on the Travel Industry to Develop Green Practices: When it comes to certain green practices and the refugee crisis, TripAdvisor CEO Steve Kaufer believes corporations and CEOs can’t sit on the sidelines and must take a stand. That’s an inconvenient truth.
Avis Tackles Urban Congestion By Teaming Up With Ridehailing Rivals: Cities are getting more crowded with vehicles, and people are becoming more reluctant to use cars during business and leisure trips. Smart technology can help.
Trip.com’s Nearly Quarter Century Odyssey as a Can’t Lose Travel Domain, Right? Buying a compelling travel domain like Trip.com and thinking it ensures success is like the people who buy a restaurant and think they can run it because they are foodies. Several major travel companies squandered the Trip.com domain because it was a side hustle. Moral of the story? A brand is only as good as the real-world business behind it.
UK Regulator Persuades More Travel Brands to Stop Hate-Selling: It’s 2019. Online travel agencies and hotels shouldn’t still be using high-pressure tactics to get us to part with our money. There are much better ways. Hopefully the UK’s action will spur other countries to do the same.
Events Sector Feels Poised for Tech Explosion: The future looks good for meetings and events. That was the vibe coming out of IMEX America in Las Vegas last week, even as some planners worry about trade tensions and a looming economic downturn.
American Express GBT Picks New CEO to Lead Tech Growth: Over the past three years, the company finalized two major acquisitions and kicked off a tech overhaul. Now, it’s ready to invest further in creating new web and mobile platforms.
Away Travel’s Prudent Rise to Become the World’s Hippest Luggage Brand: Away Travel may have created a suitcase that quickly attained cult status — but the customer insights and sensibility that drive the company are refreshingly cautious.