Skift Travel News Blog

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

Tour Operators

Attraction World Group Acquired by New Investment Company

5 months ago

Attraction World Group (AWG) has been acquired by Montana World Investments, a newly founded international investment group, in a deal facilitated by alternative asset management firm Highmore Group.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed, and it is said to allow the UK-based tours and activities distribution and booking platform to expand internationally into industries like “loyalty programs, online travel agents (OTAs), airlines, rail, and transportation.”

The capital will be used to “fuel growth in new markets, invest in advanced technologies, and make strategic acquisitions in line with AWG’s vision,” according to Olly Nicholls, AWG’s Group CEO.

The deal also marks the exit of previous AWG shareholders, Ten Oceans.

Travel Booking

India’s EaseMyTrip Advances Fintech Model by Paying Interest on Vacation Deposits

1 year ago

Evolving the ever-popular Buy Now Pay Later model, one travel company is now offering up to 20 percent interest to customers willing to bank their deposit with it.

India’s EaseMyTrip is calling the concept “Save Now Buy Later” and the investment solution offers a bank-like interest rate on the customer’s cash. It claims its new “Systematic Investment Plan” is a travel industry first.

However, customers must invest on a recurring basis. The minimum period is 90 days, after which the collected amount can be redeemed to book a vacation package or a hotel stay. The maximum duration of the investment is two years or $600,000, whichever is achieved first for both domestic and international travel.

EaseMyTrip also provides Buy Now Pay later for its customers.

“Our constant endeavour is to ease our customers’ travel experience in whichever way possible and we are certain that this new investment scheme will enable them to take their holiday and stay from their return on investment,” said chief operating officer Lokendra Saini

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.

Online Travel

Google Will No Longer Be a Place to Book Travel as Fewer Travelers Were Using It

2 years ago

Google announced it will shut Book on Google for flights for users outside the U.S. at the end of September, and told Skift it will likewise end the feature in the U.S. sometime after March 31.

It turns out, a declining number of users were booking their flights on Google, which acknowledged that travelers would rather book their flights with online travel agencies or directly with airlines.

Google Flights will end doing its own airline bookings. Source: Sean O’Neill

To be clear, Google Flights is not shutting down, but will continue to enable travelers to click on airline and online travel agency links to book their flights, as they have done for years for the vast majority of flights. What changes is that Google will no longer take a small share of bookings on Google channels, but will refer all users to partners for bookings.

Eliminating the feature likewise doesn’t hurt Google’s case to beat back regulatory efforts to diminish its power on antitrust grounds.

With the Book on Google feature for flights, travelers can book on Google, but Google was just facilitating the booking for that airline or online travel agency, and the latter provided the customer service function. Google wasn’t charging airlines for the feature.

“Over the next 12 months, we plan to phase out the Book on Google feature for Flights,” Google stated. “We originally offered this functionality to give people a simpler way to buy their tickets and to help our partner airlines and OTAs receive more bookings. However, we’ve found over time that people actually want to book directly on partner websites, and we always strive to meet user preferences whenever possible.”

Some pundits saw Book on Google as the company creeping toward becoming an online travel agency, but that never appeared to be the intent. Google makes too much money on travel advertising to want to directly compete with its biggest partners. Google also has no interest in dealing with flight changes and cancellations, or in providing customer service to stranded travelers.

Google ended Book on Google for hotels earlier in 2022.

Google launched Book on Google in 2015 as a way to facilitate bookings for airlines and online travel agencies in an era when many of their mobile websites weren’t particularly sophisticated.

But partners’ mobile capabilities have improved in the interim, and Google said it saw a declining share of flight bookings coming from the Book on Google feature.

Many metasearch sites over the years have tried these types of facilitated bookings for partner airlines and hotels, but with a few exceptions, such as HomeToGo in Germany, this type of feature has been waning for years.