The Trivago-Huawei deal is one of several Trivago is piloting where it provides backend services to business partners. These could develop one day into a material revenue stream for the German company.
The two companies agreed on a strategic partnership to jointly develop travel products in Huawei’s mobile services platform. Essentially, Trivago will be powering a chunk of Huawei’s paid hotel search business. A new Trivago app will appear in Huawei’s app store, which counted 580 million users in 170 countries in September.
The alliance includes jointly developing accommodations’ listings in Huawei’s metasearch product. That search feature is branded as the smartphone company’s Petal Search feature and it also will appear in Huawei’s Petal Maps.
Huawei’s paid search, or metasearch, offering has various hotels and online travel agencies bidding for positions in search results. Although various online travel agencies, from China’s Trip.com to Singapore’s Agoda, are being integrated into the product, the joint operation and partnership with Trivago is expected to be a deeper one.
Huawei is headquartered in Shenzhen, China, and is the third largest-smartphone brand in the world behind Samsung and Apple.
Trivago intends to steer clear of U.S. regulatory complications so the partnership doesn’t include mainland China, and the Germany-headquartered search engine won’t be sharing any U.S. software with Huawei. In 2019, U.S. regulatory authorities essentially banned U.S. communications companies from using Huawei equipment out of fears about its allegedly close ties to the Chinese government and security concerns.
The official commercial launch of Trivago in Huawei’s metasearch offering is October 29.
The deal is essentially one metasearch provider helping another. It’s not a unique arrangement: Hotelscombined powers metasearch for South Korea’s Naver.
Here’s how the Trivago-Huawei metasearch partnership works in its broad outlines:
Online travel agencies such as Expedia and Booking.com provide their hotel inventory to Trivago. When consumers click on a hotel on Trivago provided by Expedia or Booking.com, Trivago earns a click fee and the users navigate to the online travel agency site to book the hotel.
Trivago is essentially providing some of this hotel inventory from its own online travel agency partners to Huawei. When consumers select a hotel on Huawei that’s provided indirectly by Booking.com or Expedia — but brought to Huawei by Trivago — the users navigate in traditional metasearch style to Booking.com or Expedia to book the room.
In this scenario under the new Trivago-Huawei partnership, Booking.com and Expedia listings can say “powered by Trivago” and have the Trivago logo next to them. The Trip.com and Agoda hotel listings for Maldron Kevin Street, a hotel in Dublin, Ireland, for example, might come directly from Trip.com and Agoda, and not Trivago.
It’s interesting that Huawei decided to develop a strategic partnership with Trivago to develop the smartphone company’s hotel search offering, and not fellow Chinese company Trip.com Group, the largest online/offline travel agency in China. The reason is likely because Trivago specializes in metasearch, which seems to be the foundation of Huawei’s travel offering.
Photo credit: Trivago CEO Axel Hefer (R) speaking with Skift Travel Tech Editor Sean O'Neill at Skift Global Forum in New York City on September 21, 2021. Trivago is now powering a portion of Huawei's metasearch. Skift