Online Travel Update: AirBNB Summer Update and Development, EU Gatekeeper Process Begins, American Airlines Cracks Down on Repeat Shopping Technology, Resort Fee Changes and More | Foster Garvey PC

Our weekly online travel update for the week ending Friday 5 May 2023 is below. We hope you enjoy:

  • Airbnb is rolling out a summer update. Airbnb has grabbed much of the industry’s attention this past week with a series of announcements surrounding the release of its latest (summer) update. The update includes a number of important changes to the platform and booking experience, including (i) a renewed focus on individual (cheaper) private rooms (“Airbnb Rooms”), with each listing including additional information about the host of the room, (ii) the addition of new, simplified check-out instructions that are displayed prior to booking, (iii) “transparent” pricing (more on this later), (iv) discounted rates for longer stays or direct debit payments, and (v) improved customer support. In a likely effort to respond to growing calls for regulation limiting the use of mandatory fees (i.e. cleaning fees), Airbnb’s version includes price toggles that allow users to see the total price (rate plus mandatory fees, excluding taxes ). As many of us know, these types of switches are used today by several large hotel operators and have so far failed to meet regulators’ call for pricing transparency.
  • The EU Gatekeeper process will start. For those of you who have read our previous stories on the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), you will probably remember the significance of the DMA’s ‘gatekeeper’ designation. Under the DMA, gatekeepers, which are large online platforms whose size allows them to act as private rule makers, will be prohibited from engaging in certain conduct. Of particular interest to our readers is whether will receive the designation. If awarded the designation, would, among other things, be prohibited from demanding any form (narrow or broad) of price or availability parity from its suppliers across the EU. Potential watchdogs have until July 3 to provide the necessary details of their core services to the EU Commission. The Commission then has until September 6 to decide whether the company qualifies for the watchdog. Designated guards will have 6 months to meet DMA requirements.
  • American Airlines is looking to stop using repeat shopping technology. Over the years, we’ve included a number of stories detailing re-shopping services – automated services that continuously monitor pre-booked fares and fares and then automatically cancel and rebook flights and accommodation when fares or fares drop. American Airlines is clearly fed up with these services. Last week, the airline announced that advisors who use the services after June 1 will be subject to debit notices or have access to certain American Airlines content blackouts. Additional penalties may also include suspension or termination of advisors’ authority to sell airline fares. The terms and conditions of the policy were distributed to advisers by way of an addendum to the advisers’ agency agreement and added to clients’ carriage contracts (which apply to all clients).
  • Resort fees and other mandatory fees. Changes are coming. With Marriott rolling out the display changes later this month, expect the change from Marriott (which many consider to be the gold standard on issues like these) to be followed by noticeable changes from other industry providers in their fare display. What about OTAs, you ask? Perhaps changes by Marriott and other industry members may finally force aspiring attorneys general and regulators to take a hard look at OTAs. Perhaps. Let’s hope so.

Saber is cutting 15 percent of its workforce, roughly 1,100 jobs
May 4, 2023 via Skift Travel News
Skift Take Big tech companies everywhere are laying off employees, and now it’s Sabre’s turn. It could also be the result of a permanently changed travel industry after the pandemic and Sabre’s efforts to keep up.

Airbnb is betting big on rooms, new payment, price displays
May 3, 2023 via Phocus Wire
Airbnb’s latest update includes the relaunch of Private Rooms with new, improved host and property details, total price display, and a clear description of listing payment obligations.

Airbnb has a new, old plan to get into the hotel business
May 3, 2023 via Morningstar
Airbnb will promote more private rooms, with its CEO highlighting lower prices compared to Airbnb Inc.’s hotels. CEO Brian Chesky knows that hosting his platform has become “expensive” and hopes the company can return to its roots more.

The process to designate a Gatekeeper under the EU Digital Markets Act has started
2 May 2023 via MLex
The EU’s digital markets law to curb Big Tech’s abuse of power came into force today, the European Commission said in a statement. From today until July 3, potential gatekeepers can tell the regulator which of their services will be subject to scrutiny.

American Airlines prohibits automatic ticket repurchasing
May 2, 2023 via Travel Weekly US – Top Stories
Starting June 1, American Airlines will ban travel advisors from using automated reshopping technology to change and book airline tickets. Advisors who participate in the practice may be subject to debit notices or have their access to portions of American’s content removed.

Marriott will prominently display resort fees this month
May 1, 2023 via Phocus Wire
Marriott is making this necessary move based on a 2021 settlement in a Pennsylvania court over resort fees as a deceptive practice.

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