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Posts from February 2017.

This week’s client OTA & Distribution Update for the week ending February 10, 2017 is below.  A few more stories in this week’s update in comparison to the last few weeks of update.  Plus, given the increasing importance of loyalty programs and the critical role they now play in many hoteliers’ distribution strategies (e.g. direct book), we plan to start tracking and featuring important loyalty program stories – this week’s update features the first loyalty program story of many to come. 

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 https://www.brandverity.com/branded-keywords/.

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 Upside.com.  Targeting small and medium sized businesses, Upside.com 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. 

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Greg Duff, Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs GSB’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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