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Our friends (and former contributors) at Seattle-based BrandVerity produced the latest detailed study of how trademark bidders are hurting branded keywords.

Branded keywords generate some of your highest converting traffic. But that makes them a prime target for trademark bidders who steal your clicks, drive up your costs, and even mislead your customers.

The report on Branded Keywords looks at trademark bidding across 250+ popular brands in 10 industries to find out just how much damage trademark bidding is causing. The full report is available for download today at

Our weekly client OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ended February 3, 2017 is below.  Nothing too important to report this week, though a report from our December 19, 2016 Update seems particularly relevant and worth repeating given recent developments in Southern California.

Back in December, we reported on the California Supreme Court’s decision not to impose on net rate OTAs operating in the state the obligation to pay local lodging taxes on amounts collected and retained by the OTAs over and above the applicable net rate.  As part of our Update, we noted that never-before-seen language contained in the Court’s decision suggested that local jurisdictions could pursue hoteliers directly for the unpaid taxes.  A copy of our update is below.  We have now learned from several of you that at least two California cities (Anaheim and San Diego) are now using the decision to assert claims for unpaid taxes.   Apparently, both AH&LA and many of the large brands are currently involved in efforts to resolve these claims either with the cities themselves or through the OTAs (in reliance on the indemnity protections contained in many of the larger OTA distribution contracts).  If you have questions about these claims or the industry’s coordinated response to the claims, please let us know.   

This week’s OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending January 27, 2017 is below.  Not a lot of news to report this week; surprisingly little came out of this past week’s Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in Los Angeles. 

  • Rumor Has It [SHORT-TERM RENTALS].  “Sources” reported this past week that short-term rental giant, Airbnb, finally turned a profit during 2016 and expects to remain profitable throughout 2017.  According to the report, Airbnb grew 80% this past year and still holds on its balance sheet nearly all of the $3+ billion it raised from investors.  Will 2017 finally be the year when Airbnb goes public? 

Our weekly client OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending January 20, 2017 is below.  Not a lot of significant developments this past week, but next week’s Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) in Los Angeles may produce a few interesting announcements.  If you are attending ALIS and interested in connecting, shoot me an email.  

  • Yet Another New Travel Company with Pedigree [CORPORATE TRAVEL].  With a list of lauded benefits too long to detail here, Priceline founder Jay Walker announced this past week the launch of  Targeting small and medium sized businesses, purports to provide business travelers with bundled rates (air and room) 10-15% lower than any other publicized rates with the added personal benefit of a free gift card (in an amount reflective of the savings achieved by the traveler by booking through Upside) for the traveler for each booking made.  It will be interesting to see whether this new entrant in the increasingly crowded corporate travel segment will gain any traction. 

Our weekly OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending January 13, 2017 is below.  This week’s update offers something from everyone. 

  • Chinese Use of OTAs Continues to Grow [OTA].  According to a report released last week by Ctrip, Chinese tourists’ use of OTAs increased this past year by 34% (for a total of $87 billion dollars).  Ctrip further reported that the majority of its bookings now originate through mobile devices not desktops. 

Our first client OTA & Travel Distribution Update for 2017 is below.  Not a lot to report this week, so we will keep the Update short.

  • Short-Term Rentals’ Share of Lodging Industry Expected to Continue Growing [Short-Term Rentals].  In the latest report attempting to predict the long-term effect of short-term rentals on the lodging industry, financial analyst Susquehanna International Group (SIG) predicts that by 2018 short-term rentals will make up nearly 20% of the overall global lodging market.  SIG further predicts that and Expedia (and their broad range of offerings, including short-term rentals) stand the most to gain from the continued growth in the short-term rental industry.

My final client OTA & Travel Distribution Update for 2016 is below. It has been a quite week in the world of distribution. Here’s to a 2017 filled with much success and happiness. Happy New Year.

Loyalists More Likely to Use Airbnb [SHORT-TERM RENTALS]. According to a December 22 report issued by Morgan Stanley, hotel loyalty program members are the most frequent users of Airbnb. Apparently, this phenomenon remains true even if you consider the fact that Airbnb users are likely to be those that travel most frequently. Just imagine what might happen if Airbnb created an effective loyalty program . . .

Our weekly client OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the short week ending December 22, 2016 is below.  This week’s update is brief one.

Long-Awaited Outcome to US Airways Suit Is Finally Here [GDS].  A federal jury found last week following an 8-week trial that Sabre had restrained trade by forcing unfavorable contract terms on its supplier, US Airways, and awarded US Airways $15 million in damages.  At issue were the terms and conditions contained in Sabre’s GDS contract, including the contract’s “full content” provision that required US Airways to provide Sabre access to all of US Airways’ seats. 

This week’s OTA and Travel Distribution Update for the week ending December 16, 2016 is below.  This week’s Update contains an update on one important recent court decision involving OTAs.

California Supreme Court Issues a Potentially Troubling Opinion [OTA / Tax].  Although I don’t often comment on the multitude of OTA tax decisions issued across the country, I felt that the recent California Supreme Court decision finding (once again) in favor of OTAs warranted some discussion.  Although the California Court, like so many courts before it, based its decision on the rather uncontroversial conclusion that the OTAs were not “Operators” (the party expressly obligated to collect the occupancy tax under the applicable San Diego Municipal Code) of the subject hotels, language found elsewhere in the decision caught our attention. 

November 2016 held more than one shock for many in America. Not only did the presidential election cycle come to a dramatic close, but the government introduced its new Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

First introduced in 1986, the “Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification,” must be completed for every new employee. Over time, it has been expanded from one page to two. And its instructions have grown from less than a page, to six pages for the 2013 edition to 15 pages of Instructions – more than four for the employee section alone – for the 2016 edition in English and in Spanish.

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Greg Duff, Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs the firm's Hospitality, Travel and Tourism group. Greg's practice is largely directed at operational matters, including management contracts, franchise agreements, sales and marketing, distribution and technology.

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