Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Online Travel

Edreams Odigeo Gets Fined in Spain for Allegedly Misleading Consumers on Subscriptions

1 year ago

A regional consumer affairs agency in Spain fined eDreams Odigeo $23,300 (24,000 euros) for allegedly duping some consumers into buying the company’s much-publicized Prime subscription service.

the Odiego offices in Barcelona new as of 2017
In 2017, eDreams Odiego moved into new offices in Barcelona designed by Vimworks. Source: Vimworks.

The General Directorate of Consumer Affairs of the Balearic Islands, which include Mallorca and Ibiza among the better-known islands in the archipelago, levied the fine against eDreams Odigeo based on consumer complaints, finding that the Spain-based online travel company enticed travelers to book discounted flights, for example, but didn’t show prominently enough online that they would also be charged a roughly 55 euro ($53) annual fee for activation of the company’s subscription service, according to multiple published reports.

Edreams Odigeo announced in August that Prime attracted 3.5 million subscribers, after notching its largest ever quarterly growth in April, May and June, namely 560,000 paying members.  

The amount of the fine, $23,000-plus is a tiny for eDreams Odigeo from a financial perspective — the company claims to be the #2 flight online travel agency in the world behind Trip.com Group in China — is inconsequential. But the hit to eDreams Odigeo’s brand reputation, which had some trying times several years ago, could be more significant.

The company’a brands include eDreams, Opodo, and GoVoyages, among others.

An eDreams Odigeo spokesperson commented on the regulatory action.

“The resolution proposal by the Balearic consumer authority is not final and we respectfully disagree with it,” the eDreams Odigeo spokesperson said. “Our subscription programme, Prime, is exclusively offered to consumers as an optional service. Users must expressly opt-in to enroll on the programme after confirming they have read the terms and conditions. All the details of the subscription are displayed clearly and upfront, ensuring that no customer joins the programme unknowingly. 

“For further transparency, we offer a free trial period to allow consumers to enjoy the benefits of the service at no cost for 30 days. Furthermore, all customers who decide to join the free trial receive an email confirmation that clearly informs them of their subscription and how to easily cancel it online at any time before any charge is made, should they wish to.”

Janis Dzenis, a spokesperson for WayAway, a recently launched travel price comparison service that operates a subscription plan in the U.S., reacted to the news, arguing that such services need to be up-front with travelers.

“One hundred percent transparency about what the consumer is signing up for is a must for us,” Dzenis said. “Subscriptions are a long-term business play and unsatisfied customers could jeopardise your brand. By all means show people a ‘if you were a subscriber you’d get xx percent off this flight’ option, but it has to be completely clear. No surprises.”

The consumer affairs unit of the Balearic Islands, which is an autonomous province of Spain, likewise proposed a euro 24,000 fine against Spanish low-cost-carrier Volotea on similar lack of transparency grounds in inducing sign-ups for its own subscription plan.

“In the case of Volotea, the Consumer Affairs Directorate of Baleares points out that, when simulating buying a ticket for the Menorca-Asturias route, a discount of just over five euros was offered, but at the same time a subscription to the Megavolotea Plan was activated, with a cost of almost 50 euros per year. In the case of eDreams, different discounts entailed the activation of the Prime service, with a cost of 55 euros,” Facua reported.

The consumer affairs agency considers the case against the airline as being in its preliminary stages, and the proceeding against eDreams Odigeo resolved.

Travel Technology

Travel Hacks Galore to Ease the Pain of Hassled Travel

2 years ago

The New York Times published a story a few days ago headlined, Tech Hacks to Make Traveling Right Now Less of a Headache.

The famous Racoon Stealer malware is back ☠️ And it brought new updates that you should know. Source: SurfShark

In the story, the author recommended:

  • Book direct with the airline or hotel instead of gong through a middleman like an online travel agency.
  • Consult JoinSherpa.com to keep abreast of ever-changing Covid lockdown rules and destination entry requirements and use itinerary organizing tools like TripIt. If you are a Gmail user, Google Travel likewise organizes your travel bookings, although it can be glitchy.
  • Track wayward luggage with products such as Apple AirTag.
  • Download the hotel’s app to access functions such as earlier check-in as soon as your room is ready.

Additional Tech Hacks

We’ll add a few favorite tech hacks of our own.

  • Use FlightAware to see the location of the plane that’s hopefully en route for your departure. Some airline apps have this feature. A couple of weeks ago FlightAware informed me that the plane that was scheduled to take me from Puerto Rico to New Jersey would be arriving in New Jersey around 5:20 a.m. while United Airlines misinformed me that flight would be taking off more than an hour earlier. The flight actually took off around 15 hours later.
  • Speaking of United, you can now pre-order beverages and food on some U.S. domestic flights, although it too can be clunky.
  • Sign up for a virtual private network such as Surfshark so that once you arrive at your foreign destination you’ll still able to view apps such as Sling.tv, which wouldn’t otherwise be unavailable.
  • When shopping for deals, make sure to consult mobile apps for companies such as Tripadvisor, Expedia, or Booking.com because sometimes mobile deals will be lower than desktop prices.
  • Download lots of movies to your phone before your flight in case there are slim pickings on board.
  • Contact your cellphone company to see if it will give you a discounted rate for mobile calls in a foreign destination. T-Mobile has such a program, for example.

There are tons of other travel hacks available. Send us your favorites.

Online Travel

Google Travel Grabs Larger Share of U.S. Desktop Traffic During Pandemic

2 years ago

Google Travel’s flight and hotel offerings gained the most desktop traffic market share in the U.S. during the pandemic while Tripadvisor lost the most on a percentage basis, according to Similarweb’s June data.

“Google Travel now owns one-fourth of all (U.S.) desktop visits to top travel sites,” Similarweb said.

Similarweb

In its earnings call about second quarter financials Tuesday, Google said travel and retail were the drivers of its advertising revenue during the period.

The following chart shows Google Travel’s U.S. desktop market share increased 6 percentage points to 24 percent in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of pre-pandemic 2019.

U.S. Desktop Market Share Traffic Gains/Losses H1 2019 Versus H1 2022

Site20192022
Google Travel18%24%
Booking.com14%16%
Airbnb14%15%
Expedia13%13%
Southwest6%6%
Vrbo4%6%
Marriott5%5%
Delta8%4%
TripAdvisor9%4%

Source: Simillarweb

“Booking has also gained 2 percentage points of share in the U.S., and only Kayak (-1 percentage point), Delta (-4 percentage points), and TripAdvisor (-5 percentage points) have lost share,” Similarweb said.

There are two points to keep in mind: These numbers don’t include traffic from mobile devices, and traffic to Google Travel often gets sent along to online travel agency advertisers.

Airlines

UAE Carrier FlyDubai Suspends Operations to Sri Lanka Until Further Notice

2 years ago

United Arab Emirates’ budget carrier FlyDubai has suspended operations to Colombo in Sri Lanka until further notice, amid the escalation of protests in the South Asian country.

“FlyDubai flights between Dubai and Colombo Airport have been suspended from July 10 until further notice,” said an airline spokesperson, while assuring to closely monitor the situation on the ground in Sri Lanka.

Passengers booked to travel on these flights will be contacted and offered a refund, the airline has said.

Following the unrest in Sri Lanka, the embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Colombo had also issued an advisory asking its citizens in Sri Lanka to take precautions and stay away from demonstration hotspots. It has also asked its citizens to avoid travelling to the country.

On Saturday, thousands of locals demanding the resignation of Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stormed into his official residence braving teargas shells and water cannons — a scene that looked very familiar to the 1986 dethroning of the corrupt and brutal regime of Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos.

The visuals coming from the Sri Lankan president’s residence showed locals cooling off in the presidential swimming pool, sleeping on the bed and sofa as well as preparing food for dinner.

The political crisis coupled with the economic crisis has the South Asian island suffering from the worst economic crisis since independence in 1948.

The Sri Lankan president has now confirmed that he would be resigning on Wednesday, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has also announced his resignation.