Update on online travel: Spanish hotels have made complaints against Booking.com over its pricing practices; The recently passed bill may impact Google’s travel products; and Google delay deployment of controversial third-party cookies | Foster Garvey PC


This week’s update features a variety of stories, including details about the recent change in leadership at Booking.com in the Asia Pacific region. Enjoy.

Spanish hoteliers cry foul
(“Hotels in Spain are suing Booking.com for ‘abuse practices ‘- ‘40% more than the actual price’ “, 22 June 2021 via Daily Express)
The Madrid Hotel Business Association recently announced that it has filed a complaint against Booking.com with the Spanish competition authority, asking the authority to investigate the practices of the online travel agency. The complaints relate to Booking.com’s rate parity requirements (which the Association says results in booking prices 40% higher than its members’ prices) and the degree of control that the Booking.com website has exercises on hotel guests – management of reservations and (now) payments. The Association’s complaints follow similar claims made by the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers.

Newly Passed Bill Could Significantly Affect Google Travel Products
(There is a good chance that Google Travel’s ambitions are about to be set, legislatively, “June 24, 2021 via Skift Travel News) (subscription may be required)
The passage last week of the American Choice and Innovation Online Act by a House committee could ultimately force major changes at Google, Facebook and other online platforms. Under the law, platforms would be prohibited from granting preferential treatment to their products, services and businesses over those of their competitors. Presumably (although the law does not specify) the law would apply to Google Flights, Google Hotels, and Google Things To Do. If passed, the law would represent a victory for many of the top reviewers (and customers) of Google, TripAdvisor and Expedia. The law still needs to be reviewed and approved by the entire House and Senate before it comes into force.

Google delays rollout of controversial third-party cookie policy
(“Google delays its intention to ban tracking cookies”, June 24, 2021 via the Washington Post)
Kudos to all digital marketers, you now have a little more time to prepare for Google’s intended policy of blocking third-party tracking cookies. The move recently announced by Google extends the start of the policy until the end of 2023. Note that no similar postponement has been announced by Apple.

Other news:

Expedia Group Seeks to Close Imbalanced Profit Margin Gap with Booking Holdings
June 23, 2021 via Skift Travel News (subscription may be required)
This has been a permanent handicap in the competition between Expedia Group and Booking Holdings – Booking Holdings is a much more profitable business. But now Expedia boss Peter Kern remains hopeful his company can at least close the gap.

Delta-Saber deal will see global distribution system paid on booking value, not fixed fee
June 22, 2021 via Phocus Wire
A revamped distribution agreement between Delta and Saber could disrupt the standard commercial payment model between airlines, the global distribution system and travel counselors.

Booking.com appoints Laura Houldsworth as new Asia-Pacific director
June 24, 2021 via WIT
Booking.com has appointed Laura Houldsworth as Managing Director and Vice President, Asia-Pacific, effective June 2021. She succeeds Angel Llull Mancas, who was Managing Director, Asia-Pacific since August 2018.

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