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Edition XXXVII | November 7, 2019
The Travel Technology Association
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Monthly analysis & insight on policy issues affecting the travel technology industry

Washington, D.C.
Federal Affairs Update

The hotel lobby is pushing two bills in Congress this year as part of their anti-competitive efforts to undermine short-term rentals (STRs) and online travel agencies (OTAs): the Stop Online Booking Scams (SOBS) Act and the Protecting Local Authority and Neighborhoods (PLAN) Act.

  • The SOBS Act is based on claims that OTAs have scammed millions, but no data exists to support this — which hasn’t stopped the hotel lobby from pushing for this flawed bill for the third time in four years.

  • See Steve’s op-ed published on Morning Consult calling out the unsubstantiated claims by the hotel lobby and the SOBS Act and explaining the benefits of OTAs. 

  • The PLAN Act would carelessly amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act by removing the preemption for user-generated content only in cases of online short-term rentals.  Short-term rental platforms are working with municipalities every day to find reasonable and effective solutions to increase compliance, address non-compliance, and foster a short-term rental environment that works for the entire community.

  • Read more about the hotel lobby’s attempt to stifle innovation by destroying a core underpinning of the internet in Steve’s op-ed, which was published on Morning Consult.

While both the SOBS Act and the PLAN Act are being sold as consumer-friendly and playfield-leveling, neither Congress nor the traveling public is falling for the hotels’ latest scheme to gain a leg up on their perceived competition. Travel Tech will continue to urge members of Congress to not only oppose both bills but to tell the hotel industry to spend more time innovating and improving the travel experience for its customers than on seeking to undermine its own distribution partners.

What We're Reading

Oahu, HI
State Affairs Update

Effective as of August 1st, Oahu’s Bill 89 imposed severe restrictions on the availability of the island’s short-term rentals, acting as a de facto ban on STRs.
  • The University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization (UHERO) released a report at the end of September detailing a continued slowdown in Hawaii’s economy, due in part to the implementation of Bill 89. 
  • The findings were consistent with those highlighted in a report Travel Tech released last year, predicting that this approach would ultimately cost the Oahu economy $1.2 billion in economic activity and some 7,000 jobs.
  • Read Steve’s opinion pieces in Honolulu Civil Beat and Honolulu Star-Advertiser calling on Honolulu policymakers not to sit idly by and watch this scenario continue to play out.

Steve's Corner

Independent Distribution Has Never Been More Valuable to the Consumer

Thanks to Travel Tech’s members, consumers have more travel options at their fingertips than ever before. From the GDSs, the unsung heroes of comparison shopping, to OTA and metasearch platforms, to TMCs and now short-term rental platforms, the ability for consumers and agents to search, compare and book travel has never been easier.  Travel suppliers, including airlines, hotels and car rental companies want consumers to book direct, and many do. But for the brand-agnostic leisure traveler or the business traveler that needs expanded options to accommodate a complex business trip itinerary, access to the entire marketplace for travel is critical. 

That is the value proposition of Travel Tech’s members and the independent distribution of travel. With the exception of the hotel lobby’s relentless pursuit to quash the growth of short-term rentals through scare tactics, misinformation and aggressive lobbying, the relationship between suppliers and independent distributors seems to be getting stronger. In recent weeks and months, there have been some examples of this. Airlines are recognizing the invaluable technology and capabilities deployed by GDSs to build and manage many of their most complex backend systems. OTAs and large hotel chains have made recent announcements on new collaborative approaches to managing wholesale rates. TMCs are working with GDSs and airlines to deploy NDC solutions. There are many examples of how independent distributors are assisting hotel brands with increasing and maximizing their own direct bookings. 

All of this leads me to believe that the travel ecosystem is healthy and working well for suppliers and consumers. There will always be direct bookers and consumers who want to shop around for the best deals. As true intermediaries, Travel Tech’s members stand ready to lead their supplier, travel agency and consumer customers into the next frontier of travel distribution.

Member Spotlight

Sabre Hospitality Solutions' technology to power Space Hotels' ambitious growth plans

Space Hotels, an Italian hospitality group founded in 1974, has selected Sabre Hospitality Solutions as a distribution provider and business partner for its more than 60 affiliated hotels in Italy.

After an intensive search, Space Hotels selected Sabre Hospitality Solutions due to its comprehensive suite of products and services. The group will benefit from the Sabre SynXis Platform's advanced technology to update operations for its current portfolio and grow its footprint while supporting an effective, future-ready strategy that will help maximize the revenue of both direct and indirect channels.

With its SynXis Platform, Sabre will support Space Hotels' growth by increasing online bookings via the SynXis Booking Engine, as well as capturing further bookings through third-party distribution channels via the Sabre travel marketplace.

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