Dennis' Online Travel Briefing

This Briefing is available exclusively for subscribers to Skift Pro.

Every Wednesday, Executive Editor and online travel rockstar Dennis Schaal brings readers exclusive reporting and insight into the business of online travel and digital booking, and how this sector has an impact across the travel industry.

Online Travel

Booking.com Tests Native Ads for Hotels in Destination Searches

All of the online players, from Google and Facebook to Expedia and Tripadvisor, want greater chunks of hotels' advertising budgets. This is Booking.com's latest entry, and it's a bid to play catch-up.

Booking.com Tests Native Ads for Hotels in Destination Searches

Online Travel

When Short-Term Rentals Make You Desperate for a Hotel

Staying in professionally managed short-term rentals is no guarantee of an optimum guest experience. When your host's profile picture turns out to be a free stock photo, you can guess how this ended up.

When Short-Term Rentals Make You Desperate for a Hotel

Online Travel

How Far Will Google Take New Hotel and Environment Claims?

It's a nice step for Google to provide more information about hotels' sustainability practices in search results. But will the company have the guts to get "political," in the eyes of some, and push hotel listings higher or lower based on environmental practices?

How Far Will Google Take New Hotel and Environment Claims?

Online Travel

Google’s Ticketing for Attractions Off to Rough Start

Google's attractions ticket beta has been among its least elegant in travel to date. This has angered many tour operators because it couldn't have come at a more inopportune time.

Google’s Ticketing for Attractions Off to Rough Start

Hotels

Airbnb’s Short-Term Rental Challengers Double Down on Brand-Building

As happened with major online travel agencies, there will eventually be several winners in short-term rentals beyond Airbnb. But will these come from the independent property managers trying to build consumer brands, or will the larger players take them out as is customary?

Airbnb’s Short-Term Rental Challengers Double Down on Brand-Building

Online Travel

Tripadvisor Plus Offers Plenty of Chain Hotels Even If It Is Short on Brand Agreements

Consider Tripadvisor's excruciating marketing decisions: It wants to shout to the world that travelers can save hundreds of dollars on a Hilton or Marriott booking for their next trip when enrolled in the subscription program, Tripadvisor Plus. But that's going to piss off Hilton and Marriott.

Tripadvisor Plus Offers Plenty of Chain Hotels Even If It Is Short on Brand Agreements

Online Travel

Online Travel’s Localization Quandary

Traveloka knows how to go local in Indonesia and some other countries in the region, and that's one element of its traction in these markets. But can local ever be too local when online travel agencies mull international expansion?

Online Travel’s Localization Quandary

Online Travel

Tripadvisor Plus’ New Text Service Lacks the Human Touch

Tripadvisor's travel-planning help by text for Tripadvisor Plus subscribers plays to the company's strengths — user reviews and a global roster of hotels, restaurants and things to do listings. It really can't compete, though, with a real travel agent who has visited the destination and knows the hotel general manager personally.

Tripadvisor Plus’ New Text Service Lacks the Human Touch

Online Travel

Did Kiwi Figure Out How to Hack Southwest for Flight Information?

Airlines have complained about the hidden costs of online travel agency web-scraping for years, but Southwest takes that sensitivity to a much higher strategic level. Kiwi apparently is adept at out-maneuvering Southwest's page-scraping roadblocks so the courts will have to sort it all out.

Did Kiwi Figure Out How to Hack Southwest for Flight Information?

Online Travel

Former Expedia CEO Knew Copying a Rival Was a ‘Recipe for Death’

Business school students can probably debate this question endlessly and there would be merit in either position: Should smaller companies copy their larger rivals or vice versa? In the Google era, marketing power often wins the day — but differentiation still counts.

Former Expedia CEO Knew Copying a Rival Was a ‘Recipe for Death’