• Booking loses a CEO

Glenn Fogel, president & CEO at Booking Holdings, is to take over as CEO at the company’s eponymous brand after the departure of Gillian Tans.
The change came as the company pulled back from plans to charge hotels a commission on resort fees.
Tans was appointed to the newly-created role of chairwoman of booking.com. No reason was given for her departure as CEO, a position she took up in mid-2016, having spent five years as the brand’s president & COO.
Fogel said: “I am excited by the opportunity to guide our largest business and drive even more alignment across the Booking Holdings brands as we continue on our mission to help people experience the world. We are executing against a large market opportunity with a clear strategic roadmap. Working with the full Booking.com global team, I believe we can identify ways to drive more collaboration and integration to strengthen the company’s positioning for long-term success.”
Tans added: “Since the moment I have joined Booking, I have had the pleasure to work with such great people all over the world who are making Booking a success every day. Together we have built an amazing culture. Serving as their CEO has been an honour and together we paved a journey to empower people to experience the world! I look forward to serving as chairwoman.”
In March Booking Holdings forecast a slowdown, issuing guidance for a drop between 1% in gross travel bookings and an increase of 1%, pulled down by Europe.
Fogel said: “Our biggest business is, by far, in Europe. And Europe has definitely seen and is experiencing a slowdown. We witnessed a slow start of the year, primarily in our core European markets, which we believe is largely due to overall macroeconomic factors. We expect to continue to gain share in accommodations in Europe, especially with our investments.”
He added: “We believe that areas of slowdown can be great opportunities to gain share, develop loyalty, increase your value to your supplier partners. When things start getting a little bit slower, our hotel partners are looking for getting demand wherever they can. They look at the incremental. And they want to be able to say can you supply somebody in this bed? And as you know, hotels have high fixed costs. They need to get that person to help hit their bottom-line or get us close as they can to make a breakeven environment.
“We’ve been able to add value in the past. And I suspect if things do slow down a bit, that we can position ourselves in a way that, as we come out, we’ll be even stronger.”
Shortly prior to the announcement about Tans, the OTA said that it was planning to charge commissions on resort fees.
Booking.com told The Independent: “As an extension of our overarching aim to provide our customers with transparent information about the total price they will need to pay at a property when they make a booking and to create a level playing field for all of our accommodation partners, we are updating our process when it comes to charging commission on mandatory extra fees that customers are asked to pay at the property.”
Expedia Group responded by saying that it would not charge commission on the fees, but would instead downgrade hotels which charged them to a lower position in search rankings.
Booking later said that it would delay implementing them until 1 January 2020.
The platforms have come under pressure in recent years to make resort fees more transparent on listings.
Earlier this year saw the Competition and Markets Authority in the UK included “hidden charges” in its list of unfair practices it had identified across the sector, not just being employed by the OTAs.
CMA chairman, Andrew Tyrie, said: “The CMA has taken enforcement action to bring to an end misleading sales tactics, hidden charges and other practices in the online hotel booking market. These have been wholly unacceptable. Six websites have already given firm undertakings not to engage in these practices. They are some of the largest hotel booking sites. The CMA will now do whatever it can to ensure that the rest of the sector meets the same standards.”
Rory Boland, Which? Travel editor, said: ‘We have repeatedly exposed sites such as these for using dodgy tactics like pressure selling, sneaky charges, dodgy deals and discount claims, so it’s absolutely right that the CMA is taking strong action. These changes must now be swiftly implemented to stop these misleading practices, so customers can trust the deals they’re presented with are really deals and are told the total cost of their room upfront when booking a hotel online.”
All changes must be made by 1 September, with the CMA commenting that sites had already started making improvements.

HA Perspective [by Katherine Doggrell]: Resort fees have been annoying just about everyone over the years: the consumers who pay them, the CMA which finds them misleading and the OTAs which don’t get to claim any commission on them. The only parties which like them are the hotels themselves, but the eagle eye of Expedia pushing them down the listings could see them start to change their minds.
While Booking is motivated, it appears, by getting a slice of the pie, a side effect may turn out to be an increase in transparency, which is something to be wished by all parties. A guest is more likely to book if they don’t see the price leap on the final page, if for no other reason than laptops are easier to use when they haven’t been smashed into pieces after being thrown against the wall.
While the time of resort fees is unlikely to be passing soon, the net is tightening on how they appear online and this in itself will help to curtail them. In Australia, businesses have to disclose the full price at the beginning of the online purchasing process, something which applies not only to hotels, but other purchases, including Airbnb and its pesky cleaning fees. We are, after all, busy people who need holidays to protect our laptops from walls. Making everything simple and you will be checking in fewer guests with builtin vendettas.

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