We’ve found fall to be the busiest of all seasons in the online travel world as everyone returns to work from summer breaks and the dates of the major online travel conferences are fast approaching. As you can see from the long list of stories in this week’s Update this fall is no different.
- Resort Fee Updates. Perhaps the biggest news this past week was out of California where previously discussed California legislation has made it to the California governor’s desk for signature. Whether Governor Newsom will sign one or both of the new bills remains to be seen. Under the California legislation, it would be illegal to display a rate (or pricing generally) without including all mandatory fees and charges (excluding taxes). The legislation would apply to both hoteliers and online platforms and would require the display of total price to both listings (for properties wherever they may be) shown to travelers in CA and CA listings shown to those outside CA (which, practically, like in so many other contexts, will cause most hoteliers and platforms to convert to total price everywhere). Governor Newsome has until October 14 to sign or veto the bills. If the governor does nothing, both would become law by default. Other resort fee updates from this past week include Hilton’s announced transition to displaying mandatory fees up front (exactly what that means remains to be seen). Hilton’s announcement, like so many others, encouraged uniform treatment among hoteliers and their online platform counterparts. Also making news was Choice’s announced settlement with state attorneys general in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nebraska and Oregon. Under the settlement, Choice has agreed to move to total price by the end of 2023.
- Booking.com to Launch U.S. Credit Card. Many of last week’s online travel headlines focused on Booking.com’s “leaked” plans to launch a U.S. co-branded credit card. No one should be surprised by this announcement, particularly those that have spent any time considering the pros and cons of embracing Booking’s payment platform. Booking.com’s financial partner for the card is unknown. With the launch of a co-branded credit card, Booking.com will be better positioned to leverage the many opportunities associated with its payment platforms include traveler credits, rebates and other traveler benefits.
- MakeMyTrip’s Corporate Booking Platform Making Progress. While much of the attention regarding new corporate travel platforms goes to the larger, more established platforms, MakeMyTrip’s corporate platform, MyBiz, has been quietly recording successes. With a goal to automate users’ entire booking process (through generative AI and other technologies), the Indian platform now offers foreign and domestic flights, hotels, trains and cabs. In its four years of existence, the platform has already grown to over 50,000 users.