The EU Commission’s official decision to block Booking Holdings’ planned purchase of eTraveli (a decision that Booking has publicly criticized and committed to challenging) garnered much of the news this past week, as well as stories from Skift’s annual Skift Global Forum held in New York this past week. Enjoy.
- Effects of Expedia / Hopper Split Explained (by Hopper). In an interview this past week at the Skift Global Forum, Hopper founder and CEO, Fred Lalonde, claimed that Expedia (not Hopper) suffered the ill effects of the sudden termination of the parties’ supply agreement. According to Lalonde, concerns over competition led to Expedia’s decision, not Expedia’s purported consumer concerns. Lalonde cited Hopper’s growing market share in flights (at the expense of Expedia) as support of his competition claims. Any concerns that Hopper might have had about the loss of important hotel inventory may be short lived as Hopper also announced last week new hotel supplier deals with wholesalers Hotelbeds and WebBeds (on top of Hopper’s growing number of direct supplier contracts).
- EU Commission Officially Vetoes Booking’s Purchase of eTraveli. The long awaited decision by the EU Commission regarding Booking Holdings’ proposed purchase of eTraveli finally arrived. In short, the Commission believed that the acquisition would have further cemented Booking’s already dominant market position (60% market share) in hotel distribution in the EU. With an enhanced flight offering (identified by the Commission as a major acquisition channel for prospective hotel guests), Booking would have been in a position to expand its travel ecosystem and thereby drive even more traffic to its platform (ultimately resulting in higher costs for hoteliers and consumers). In rendering its decision, the Commission considered and ultimately rejected Booking’s proposed compromise – a so-called “carousel” whereby a Kayak powered menu of competing hotel offers from other OTAs would have been shown upon checkout by flight customers. According to the Commission, the fact that the carousel would have been powered by a Booking Holdings company led to questions of transparency and possible discrimination. As we have noted in prior Updates, Booking has publicly criticized the EU’s decisions (as late as last week at the Skift Global Form) and has vowed to fight the Commission’s decision. More to come . . .
- Expedia’s “Fall Release 2023” to Feature a Number of Consumer Improvements. According to recent announcements by Expedia, its planned fall release of updated products and features contains a little something for everyone. Consumers will soon have the opportunity to converse (via ChatGPT) with Expedia’s brand apps (Expedia, Hotels.com and VRBO) about prospective properties’ amenities and services. Conversational travel guides will also be made available to users of the Expedia and Hotels.com app. Other new app features include “Trip Planner,” a new tool to allow travelers to plan group travel, and improved functionality for managing users’ loyalty program (“One Key”) accounts.