Red Lion Hotels is obviously a much smaller chain than a Hilton Worldwide or Marriott International. Still, Red Lion's deal to offer its member-only rates on Expedia.com and Hotels.com represents the start of some shifting in the direct-booking landscape. Expedia is a powerful force in hotel distribution and there will be more of these changes to come.
Recent reports alleging that Marriott has "buyer's remorse" about the deal, while scintillating, don't seem very logical when you think of all the effort both Marriott and Starwood have put into making this deal a reality.
It could still be several weeks before the Marriott-Starwood deal is wrapped up — and much longer before the two companies are integrated — but travel buyers and travel management companies are wise to start preparing now for eventual negotiations with the bulked-up company.
The growth of select-service brands from the major hotel companies isn't slowing down at all, and for good reason: They're easier to finance, build, and there's a clear demand for them. In short, it's a clear sign that hotels are learning to listen to what customers really want, as well as adapt to the new on-demand economy.
Again, we have to ask: Why aren't hotels doing more to prevent these kinds of credit card data breaches, and why does it take operators so long to inform their customers?
In China, anything is possible when it comes to antitrust clearance and there are a number of potential reasons why regulatory authorities there extended their review of the Marriott-Starwood merger. This prolonged waiting game could be part of a larger strategy to extract concessions and finish off part of what Anbang started in March.
The big talking game we saw during the first quarter may have softened a bit in the second, but it's clear hotel CEOs are committed over the long term to pursuing and winning the direct bookings war.
You're probably wondering — as are we — if this delay in Chinese regulatory approval of the Marriott-Starwood deal has something to do with the fact that one of China's largest insurance companies tried to buy Starwood earlier this year in a dramatic bidding war, only to step away at the 11th hour, reportedly because Chinese regulators frowned on the idea. We'll certainly be looking into this more.
In online travel and the lodging industry, as well as politics, astute observers follow the money. As it is with Marriott: The chain is using TripAdvisor 1) for bookings with lower-than standard online travel agency commissions and 2) to advertise even-lower-cost direct bookings on Marriott.com. Makes perfect economic sense.
Not all hotel loyalty member rates are created equal, and it pays to read the fine print.