OTAs and metasearch dominate Google’s hotel-related keywords. More than 75% of clicks belong to online travel agencies. Even though hotel brands have gone all in on direct booking campaigns, online travel sites like and continue to dominate paid search advertising, according to media research firm Kantar.

Expedia seems unable to reach the promised land. The company is in for some serious cutbacks and organizational changes. Expedia can afford to rationalize marketing spend, push the best brands in every market and consider withdrawing others - they will do what seems smart for the greater good - both operational and marketing wise. But competition remains tough and the macroeconomic climate cruel.

Where brand loyalty sits in a travel super app world. Millions are using these apps like WeChat, Grab and LINE on a daily basis becoming powerful brands in their own right. They sit right at the head of the funnel, garnering a huge amount of data that provides them with a healthy knowledge of what users want and need. Travel companies need to find a way to participate and stand out from the crowd, amid knowing that travel is not a high-frequency purchase.

The big will get bigger as travel firms avoid the Google ‘death zone’. The more Big Data an OTA has, the more it can expect higher conversions or higher margins. For hotel bookings, OTAs have moved away from a cheapest first price order, to a merchandised list, based on the highest converting hotels, securing bigger margins by focusing on a small set of hotels with higher booking volumes.

Google bows to European pressure testing adding free direct links to travel competitor websites above its own preferentially displayed hotel, vacation rental, flight, and tour package products.

How Airbnb eliminates 'positional bias' in search results. Deep learning continues to flourish in search ranking at Airbnb. A new Cornell research paper details the challenges and the changes made to improve the treatment of new listings on Airbnb’s platform, helping other companies that use ranking teams that are transitioning to deep learning.

Expedia stock jumps on strong earnings and cost-cutting plan. Company has refocused on core operations following executive shuffle. The sum of what customers spent across rooms, flights and other travel across Expedia’s brands - known as gross bookings - grew 6 percent to $23.2 billion for the quarter. Room nights stayed were up 11% during the quarter. Air revenue was down 8%, driven lower by a 9% decrease in revenue per ticket.

Barry’s back: Expedia chairman Barry Diller opens up on hour-long earnings call

Tripadvisor: Experiences and dining will eclipse hotel revenue in 2020. Non-hotel auction revenue to drive lion’s share of future growth. The ambition is to redirect its business away from its hotel auction, where Google, stingier online travel agency marketing budgets, and traveler spending inclinations are creating pressure.

Top hotel booking revenue makers of 2019 show no stopping of direct channel. SiteMinder reveals annual lists of the distribution channels with highest booking revenue to hotels over the past year. Varying across 20 of the world’s top tourism destinations, the lists reveal the fast-growing successes of both direct booking strategies for hotels and the growth strategies of the travel industry’s consolidation-hungry giants.

Trivago hits record low on revenue shortfall. Shortfall in sales underscores how competitive the online travel business has become. The company has been negatively impacted by the slowdown in industry growth, growing competition and the reduced spend of large OTA advertisers. Slowed industry growth has led to a lower share of first-time users of online travel websites, reducing the value of metasearch leads to the large OTA advertisers.

Forbes Travel Guide unveils 70 new five-star hotels. The company has unveiled its annual star rating awards - this time with a record number of new properties. The Four Seasons chain retained its status as the brand with the most five-star hotels; 11 more joined its roster. London had the most top hotels. In addition to the hotels earning five-star ratings, there are 13 new five-star restaurants and 24 new five-star spas.

Related: The galaxy keeps growing at Forbes Travel Guide

Google's vacation rentals under fire in Europe. Rivals accuse Google of favoring its own vacation rental service. The 40 companies and trade bodies in nine EU countries, Switzerland and the United States, which include eDreams Odigeo, Expedia and Tripadvisor, laid out the case against Google in a letter to EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager.

Is 2020 the year of the GDS?. GDS hotel bookings are increasing at a faster rate than other channels. Travel agents are booking hotel reservations on the GDS in record numbers, from 42 million ten years ago to 79 million in 2019. On average, they book 22X more room nights than consumers, making the GDS a prime channel for hotels looking to increase revenue.

What’s wrong at Tripadvisor?. Missteps, a changing competitive environment, and a corporate structure that left little accountability. Today, if you walk into hotels and restaurants around the world, you’re likely to find a Tripadvisor certificate of excellence or a “top-rated” sign, but the company isn’t known as a place to find hotels, vacation rentals, or attractions to book. Despite all of the pivots, the company still hasn’t found its bearings.

Sabre and Farelogix leave merger in Judge’s hands. Sabre stands to gain millions in market value if it clinches the merger. The trial has marked the highest-profile antitrust case ever in airline distribution, and the stakes are high. Should the Justice Department lose, it could embolden Sabre - and Amadeus and Travelport - to pursue harsher lines in their future contract negotiations with airlines.

OTAs have to stop just attracting but retaining customers. The status quo isn’t working for OTAs and consumers. OTAs still treat potential customers with disdain using manipulative marketing tactics. If things don’t change, Google’s power in the sector will come to dominate the narrative of the travel industry over the next decade.

OTAs: Regulatory scrutiny could shed new light on business practices. Regulators around the world are lashing out at the business models of OTAs. As regulators have pointed out, metasearch companies - and online travel agencies - have been less than forthcoming about precisely how they rank listings, and sort bidders within listings. This new scrutiny may reveal more of that process.

Despegar to acquire Best Day, a leading travel agency in Mexico. Largest transaction in the LatAm travel intermediary industry in terms of revenues.

Farelogix expressed concern in the past that Sabre Corp.'s growing power over airlines and travel agencies would lead to higher flight costs and fewer options for consumers.

New research by SiteMinder reveals that today’s independent hoteliers have a greater awareness and appetite around technology when it comes to their marketing and distribution strategies.'s 2020 Booking Booster program focuses on sustainable accommodation. The company announced $3.4 million in grants to support sustainable accommodation in 2020. The 2020 Booking Booster will bring startups, social enterprises, non-profit organizations and accommodations of all kinds together directly to explore solutions to become more sustainable.

Sabre Hospitality Solutions on how SynXis Channel Connect goes beyond basic channel management to make the intelligent connections hoteliers need today.

U.S. challenges Sabre/Farelogix merger. Farelogix is trying to stomp out competition in the travel industry by buying up a disruptive and innovative rival in Sabre. Sabre and Farelogix, which announced their deal in 2018, say they don’t compete with one another directly and that the DOJ has “artificially cherry-picked” one small aspect of the travel industry: booking services.

But the DOJ says Sabre and Farelogix compete head-to-head on airline booking services, and that Farelogix has disrupted the industry and forced Sabre to lower its prices.

Tripadvisor informs employees about wide-ranging reorganization. The company will reverse its long-standing playbook and emphasize Viator as a separate tours and activities brand. Tripadvisor co-founder and CEO Steve Kaufer announced that Viator and Tripadvisor Experiences will operate as independent brands and with separate product, engineering, and marketing teams.

Tripadvisor embarking on a dramatic realignment

TripAdvisor reducing workforce by 'hundreds'. The company needs to reduce costs as competition from Google intensifies. Google has launched new travel search tools that compete with TripAdvisor, while adding its own reviews of hotels, restaurants and other destinations. Google has also crammed the top of its mobile search results with more ads. This has forced many companies, including TripAdvisor, to buy more ads from the search giant to keep online traffic flowing.

Airbnb 2020 update. The company shares an update on its investments and achievements in 2019, as well as its plans for for 2020.

Google Flights ends booking charges. Google Flights is changing the way it makes money. With potential pressure from U.S. regulatory authorities and perhaps displeasure from airlines, Google is making the biggest change to the way it monetizes flight search since it launched Google Flights in 2011.

Kayak launches Trip Builder. A helpful tool designed for anyone traveling to more than one destination, the new feature calculates the cheapest routes between multiple cities for the biggest savings. launches global rating system for non-hotel accommodation. The world’s first rating system for alternative non-hotel accommodation. The new rating system is similar to hotel star classification that objectively rates hotels according to a set of quality criteria. wants to see the classification system become globally accepted, like star ratings for hotels.

Google/Sabre partnership wades deeper into Expedia’s territory. Google teams up with Sabre in a new 10-year alliance. Sabre will move the bulk of its IT infrastructure over to Google Cloud. But the alliance goes beyond a typical cloud deal, and the two companies say they will work together to “co-create the future of travel.”

How the travel web lost trust. Tech-savvy travelers have been taken for a ride. The power of early travel internet was being able to crowdsource the views and experiences of a vast range of travelers to help inform your holiday. Now most bookers approach each five-star review with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Trivago misled Australian customers on hotel pricing, court finds. The company didn’t show the cheapest deals for rooms but promoted advertisers who paid the biggest fees. Trivago misled consumers about cheap hotel deals on its website and in advertising, a federal court judge has ruled. The company was also found guilty of false and misleading price comparisons because they compared a standard room rate with a luxury room at the same hotel.

Thomas Cook to fly again as online travel agency. Thomas Cook is to be reborn as an OTA under plans drawn up by the Chinese group that acquired it. Fosun Tourism Group, the travel group’s biggest shareholder until its collapse in September, is understood to have hired a dozen former Thomas Cook executives, most of them with a technology background, with a view to relaunching the brand in June. launches CityBook app. App leverages machine learning to make instant recommendations for travelers. CityBook will be fully focused on helping travelers once they have arrived in their destination, whether it’s by providing curated recommendations around things to do, showcasing local offers and discounts, or providing content to help travelers get a feel for the city to help them make decisions.

Hotels powerless in stopping OTAs discounting their prices. Many hotels rely on OTA bookings despite finding that their prices are not respected. Hotels are concerned at the continued hold that online travel agencies have over their ability to control rates to consumers. In a series of questions posed to participants on a recent webinar hosted by PhocusWire and Hotelbeds, hotels indicated a range of issues that still exist around rate parity.

What is a good channel mix for a hotel?. A balanced channel mix isn’t overly weighted in one area.. Yes, it varies by hotel location, brand, mix of sales and a variety of other factors. But, let’s discuss what distribution channels make up the channel mix, how to build it, how the pie should be divided and how to shift it.

Google's expanding travel tools portfolio does not bode well with OTAs. Google Travel allows the company to deliver personalized travel experience to users, which is a major positive. Google is installing new modules into Google search results that are directing consumers to Google Hotel Ads or Google Flights. This is causing traffic shift from Expedia to Google. This is likely to continue impacting Expedia, due to Google’s increasing search initiatives.

Latin America’s biggest travel company isn’t Despegar or Brazil’s CVC Corp.’s purchase of Argentina’s Almundo is a strategic move to increase its digital reach. While Despegar and have arguably become household names for finding online travel deals in Latin America, the biggest travel company by bookings in the region is one that many may have never heard of: Brazil’s CVC Corp.

Deep discounting by OTAs harming hotels. Non-participation of hoteliers in online promotions of OTAs affects their sales. OTAs claim that they give the option to hoteliers to either participate in deep discounting deals or not. However, a recent report reveals that non-participation in these deals affects hoteliers rankings and client base on these platforms, affecting the capability to compete fairly.

Google now includes taxes and fees in hotel searches. Google launched features intended to make finding, comparing, and booking hotels less stressful. Starting this week, you’ll be able to browse personalized search results and narrow down properties by neighborhood, and view hotel receipts that reflect the actual amount you can expect to pay for a given stay (including taxes and fees).

Airbnb may scan your online life to see if you’re a suitable guest. The company primarily aims to analyze users for “negative personality or behavior traits”. Airbnb owns the patent to software that assigns netizens a “trustworthiness score” based on conclusions it draws about our personalities and lifestyles from online data including social media presences, blog posts and legal records.

Delta's big technology push. Airline is tapping artificial intelligence, parallel reality. Delta Air Lines is creating its own version of a “digital concierge” to tie customers more tightly to the carrier for travel needs ranging from navigating traffic to booking a hotel. to end "manipulative techniques". The company agrees to EU demands to make changes to its hotel offers. The European Commission has been in talks with for the past year to comply with EU consumer laws and stop practices like artificial booking time limits and misrepresentation of discounts.

The company will implement the changes by June 16, 2020, the Commission said.

Tripadvisor doomed to witness a terrible 2020 too, as weakness in its Hotels, Media & Platform segment are expected to persist.

Airbnb is a platform not an estate agent, says Europe’s top court. The ruling make it harder for the company to be forced to comply with local property regulations. According to the court, Airbnb’s service is “not aimed only at providing immediate accommodation services, but rather it consists essentially of providing a tool for presenting and finding accommodation for rent."

Airbnb responds to EU court decision campaign pushes travel experiences. The company wants to become a destination for curated trips rather than just cheap deals. debuted a curated section on its website offering trips that support New Year's resolutions and a new marketing push showcasing travelers achieving their resolutions by booking on the platform.

The platform's New Year's resolution-themed effort comes as the brand shifts ad spend away from search toward beefing up brand awareness with TV and online video ads.

TripAdvisor: Losing traction. TripAdvisor points to its huge 460 million monthly unique visitors, but ''eyeballs'' will only drive its business model so far.. What TripAdvisor is struggling with is to fully engage and monetizing its platform.

At the start of 2019 TripAdvisor was viewed as a stable enterprise. What it lacked in revenue growth, but it made up by being a high-margin advertising asset. But with less leverage to spread over its cost base, this will ultimately dampen its bottom line EBITDA prospects in 2020.