Our weekly OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending June 22, 2018 is below. This week’s Update features not one, but two stories (offering perspectives from both the hospitality and technology industries) on Amazon’s recent announcement regarding Alexa for Hospitality. Amazon’s announcement is further evidence of the power of voice and its potential impact on travel and lodging in particular (something I’ve been presenting and blogging about for the past two years).
Alexa’s Move into Hospitality Becomes Official
("Amazon launches an Alexa system for hotels," TechCrunch, June 19, 2018; "Amazon Wades Into Travel as Hotels Turn to Alexa in Rooms," Skift Travel News, June 19, 2018)
On Tuesday, Amazon announced the creation of a division within Amazon (Alexa for Hospitality) dedicated to placing Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices in the variety of accommodations offered in today’s lodging industry. Amazon’s announcement was buoyed by Marriott’s simultaneous announcement of its decision to run a 10 property (multi-brand) pilot with the newly created division to place Alexa-enabled Echo products in Marriott hotel rooms later this summer. According to Jennifer Hsieh, Vice President of Customer Experience Innovation at Marriott, “voice-first experiences have become an increasingly important channel for our guests, and we [Marriott] think Amazon is leading the market in this technology.” (Bad news for Apple’s Siri, which was being tested by Marriott together with Alexa prior to the announcement). Initially, the voice-activated devices will be set up to allow guests to request hotel-specific information (e.g. spa hours), to connect to hotel services (e.g. in-room dining) and, working with a hotel’s back-of-house systems, to order and reserve services (e.g. spa appointments). Additional features may include control of in-room systems, in-room phone access and music play. Let’s hope that pilot programs like Marriott’s (or others planned by rental management companies and other lodging companies) give suppliers at least a fighting chance against their well-capitalized distribution competitors that will inevitably pursue their own voice-activated strategies.
This week’s OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending June 15, 2018 is below. Hometown favorite, Amazon, features heavily in this week’s Update.
Skift Reports Key Takeaways from Inaugural Technology Forum
("4 Key Insights on Travel Tech Advances, Personalization, Voice and Amazon," Skift Travel News, June 14, 2018)
Skift held its inaugural Skift Tech Forum in Silicon Valley this past week. If any of you attended the Forum and found it valuable, please let me know. Following the Forum, Skift’s editors provided their thoughts on the Forum’s key takeaways:
- The divide between the technology “haves” (e.g. Expedia and Alibaba) and “have nots” (travel suppliers) is only growing larger.
- Personalization remains an often repeated industry buzzword, though industry members recommend proceeding with caution.
- Voice search continues to show great promise, particularly in the 2-5 year horizon.
- Technology platforms – such as Google and Amazon – with their vast amounts of user data loom large in travel distribution.
This week’s OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending June 8, 2018 is below. This week’s Update is a lengthy one and includes our sixth and final installment of our series in anti-trust challenges to hoteliers’ keyword practices. I hope you enjoy.
Competitors’ Agreement to Restrict Keywords – Bad / Hoteliers’ Organization of Distribution Chains – Good
(Keyword Restrictions - Part VI: Hotels and OTAs – Where Do We Go From Here?," GSB Client Update, June 8, 2018)
Don completes his review of recent anti-trust allegations made against hoteliers in his sixth and final installment and touches briefly on Google’s role in all of this.
This week’s OTA & Travel Distribution Update features a variety of stories, including renewed federal efforts to legislate third-party booking engines’ disclosure requirements. Enjoy.
Reservation Re-Sales in the News Again
("The Rise of Reservation Re-Sale (and Why Airbnb Is Involved)," Hotel Online, May 30, 2018)
With the recent changes in major hoteliers’ cancellation policies (most now requiring 48 hours advance notice), reservation re-sellers – like Roomer and Cancelon - are again making headlines. While the services these sites offer can present a challenge for hoteliers seeking to manage their rates and inventory, their relative obscurity has limited their effect. Now enter Airbnb...
This week’s OTA & Travel Distribution Update for the week ending May 25 is below. This week’s Update features a variety of stories, including one of our first (of many more likely to come) on the changing world of airline distribution. Enjoy.
Keyword Restrictions – Part V: Why All the Griping?
("Keyword Restrictions - Part V: Restrictions on Using Trademarks as Keyword Search Terms: Why All The Griping?," GSB Client Alert, May 25, 2018)
Today’s Update features the fifth installment of our six-part series critiquing recent articles (and litigation) challenging hoteliers’ keyword practices. Having identified in last week’s installment the many pro-competitive / pro-consumer effects of allowing hoteliers to limit OTAs’ use of hoteliers’ trademarks, Don now questions the reasons behind the many “gripes” (his word, not mine) about these practices.
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.