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Online travel update: Changes in cancellation policies

Online travel update: Booking.com, Expedia, Amazon, Agoda and hotels which got more direct bookings in 2020.

Booking.com

Booking.com changes hotel cancellation and deposit policies. The online travel company announces plans to limit the number and types of cancellation and advance deposit policies that its platform will support. The change takes effect on April 6, 2021. This is not the first time Booking.com has announced its own approach to cancellations regardless of the policies maintained by its hotel supplier partners.

Expedia

Expedia opens up discount rates to COVID-hit travel agency partners. Thought it was difficult to monitor and manage the thousands of agents in Expedia’s affiliate network? Just wait. Package rates with discounts historically available through Expedia’s affiliate network now are available to everyone. Previously, the discounted rates had been available only to Expedia Silver or higher level members of the network. The change comes in order to assist travel agents recovering from the ramifications of COVID-19 as demand for travel increases. Yes, that may be true, but the potential increase in bookings associated with the expanded network might also benefit Expedia.

Agoda

Agoda sees growing demand for last minute deals, launches new tool. The last-minute booking tool will start this month across the Asia-Pacific region. It will feature heavily discounted rates (30 percent off standard rates) for same-day arrivals. Hoteliers should watch carefully whether existing rates have discounts for distribution through the program. Obviously, any decision to participate in the program must also be made in light of hoteliers’ existing contract requirements. Rates for same-day bookings are rarely excluded from rate parity or best available rate requirements.

Amazon

Amazon Gets Aggressive With Promotional Pricing for Virtual Tours. Four months after the launch of Amazon Explore, Amazon is putting pressure on participating tour operators to lower their prices. Some experiences are as low as $10.00. Whether this is a sign of further things to come (including a rumored transition to in-person tours and experiences) for the online giant, remains to be seen.

Hotels

Hotel Direct Channels Gained Share of Bookings in 2020. Hotels saw growth in the share of bookings coming through their direct channels during 2020, according to SiteMinder. In more than 20 of the world’s top destinations, hotel websites maintained their top-five position in all destinations over 2020.

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