Online travel update: Groups360 raises an additional $50 million; Uber continues to push it to premium app status; Google’s Rob Torres returns to Expedia | Foster Garvey BBC

This week’s online travel update features a variety of stories, including a follow-up story on Uber’s ongoing transition from flight recall app to super app. Enjoy.

Groups360 raises an additional $50 million
(“Groups360 Attracts $35M, Expands Group Travel Platform,” April 8, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
Groups360 recently announced that it has raised an additional $50 million in funding. The group booking platform launched in 2014 and in 2019 received a $50 million investment from hoteliers Accor, IHG, Hilton and Marriott. Groups360 plans to use this latest investment to further its expansion across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific. Group360’s flagship offering, GroupSynch, allows users to book guest rooms and meeting rooms entirely online – similar to competing online offerings from CVENT (Instant Reservation), Hotelplanner and others. In our view, the first company to offer reasonable contractual terms that acknowledge the concerns of hoteliers in general regarding online distribution will likely have a significant advantage.

Uber keeps pushing it to reach premium app status
(“Uber Uses Full Super App, Adds Planes, Trains, Hotels,” April 6, 2022 via Phocus Wire)
Early last month, we featured a story detailing Uber’s rollout of events and activities on its mobile app. Uber’s final plans are becoming clearer. This summer, Uber users in the UK will be able to book train tickets and car rentals on the app. In the fall, UK users will have access to flights and hotels. Uber plans to rely on third-party partners to provide the required inventory (via API connections). In the words of Uber’s UK regional general manager, Jamie Heywood, service and product additions allow Uber users to have a “smooth door-to-door travel experience.” It looks like someone has been listening to Glenn Fogel of Booking Holding and his plans for soon-to-be Uber competitor,

Rob Torres from Google is returning to Expedia
(“Expedia hires Google Travel Ad Manager Rob Torres,” April 4, 2022 via Skift) (Subscription may be required)
Meet the new Senior Vice President of Expedia Media Solutions, Rob Torres. This announcement marks Rob’s return to Expedia after nearly 15 years at Google. While no one says much about Rob’s new role and whether Expedia’s hiring was primarily motivated by its desire to reduce its reliance on third-party marketing, Rob shared his belief that he could contribute to Expedia’s efforts to better leverage first-party data (especially now (Due to significant privacy changes by Apple and Google), help improve automation and focus Expedia’s efforts on diverse “sub-sectors” of travel such as destinations and cruises. Congratulations Rob, we look forward to seeing the changes it brings.

Next week, we’ll include an important update of the US Department of Justice’s recent announcements regarding website accessibility.

Other news:

Booking Company Pays Russia $16.7 Million For Violating Competition Law 2021 – Antitrust Service
April 8, 2022 via Reuters – Legal news
On Friday, April 8, Russia’s Federal Antimonopoly Agency (FAS) said online travel agency Booking Holdings Inc (BKNG.O) had paid a fine of 1.3 billion rubles ($16.66 million) to Russia for violating antitrust law.

The status of online travel agencies
April 8, 2022 via Phocus Wire
The online travel market is expected to grow 18 percent in 2022 to $76.7 billion, a figure that’s a little closer to 2019’s total bookings, according to new research from Phocuswright.

SiteMinder unites products to create a comprehensive platform for hoteliers
April 5, 2022 via Phocus Wire
SiteMinder is launching a comprehensive update to its platform that helps hoteliers increase their digital commerce potential. The company describes its next-generation platform as putting “hotels at the center of its purpose-built ecosystem”.