After a few incredibly busy weeks in online travel, this past week was relatively quiet. Enjoy.
- Booking.com Launches Cruises in the U.S. For years now, we’ve featured stories in our weekly Update detailing the many challenges of booking cruises online. The multitude of available sailings, cabins, pre and post accommodations, excursions, etc. were always referenced when explaining why cruises would never fit well on traditional online booking platforms. Booking.com seems committed to change that. Last week, Booking.com began offering cruises to U.S. users through a white label cruise site with cruise agency, World Travel Holdings. A similar partnership with Priceline already exists. Users of the new platform will be able to select from over 10,000 sailings, and customers booking on the new platform will find exclusive offer and be eligible to receive shipboard credits of up to $1000 (depending on amount spent to book the cruise). World Travel Agents will handle the bookings (which will be made via phone), customer service and customer emails.
- Airbnb May Look (Again) to Hotels to Fill Accommodations Demand. Faced with a regulatory crackdown that has slashed the number of its NYC rental listings, Airbnb may soon turn to boutique hotels to fill the gaps. Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, reported in last week’s earnings call that boutique hotels presented “a real opportunity” for addressing the recent regulatory changes. Readers of our Update will recall that Airbnb went down this hotel road before – even going so far as to create a special category for hotels on its platform- but that it ultimately dropped the effort with the onset of the pandemic. Since that time, it has been difficult to discern whether Airbnb viewed hotels as a real opportunity. We will have to wait and see whether this latest effort by Airbnb is different than the past.
For those of you who I saw in Long Beach this past week at the HSMAI Sales Forum, it was great to see you.