Expedia and Marriott urge progress on proliferation of rogue hotel rates

Skift grip

Big scam rates on metasearch sites are the freebies that continue to be given to travelers and metasearch sites. Expedia and Marriott seem to be making progress on this.

Denis Schaal

Travel online this week

Expedia Group and Marriott International the two said this week that their partnership to curb the unauthorized distribution of wholesale hotel rates has resulted in an approximately 80% drop in such Marriott rates appearing on metasearch sites.

Skift contacted the two companies after Expedia announced on Tuesday that it had signed its first national hotel group in the UK, Village hotels, which has more than 30 hotels across the country. IHG, headquartered in the UK, signed up for the program in February.

Despite reported progress in limiting the distribution of metasearch to consumers of discounted wholesale rates designed to be hidden in vacation packages and tours, Skift found some of these unfettered wholesale rates on Kayak in the first search we tried.

Four Points by Sheraton, which is a Marriott brand, was offering via Kayak a stay tonight at its Punta Cana Village property in the Dominican Republic for $142. The rate for members of the Bonvoy loyalty program was $139.

However, for the same traditional part, Traveluro offered the room on Kayak for $105, Roomdi.com had it for $109, Travelup’s the rate was $124, and Ze Hotels broadcast its rate at $126.

Any rates that were lower than the $142 that Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village was offering broke Marriott’s rate parity provisions, which are designed to ensure that no third-party website offers rooms at rates lower than those from the official Marriott website. The theory is that it would taint the hotel brand and its pricing power if consumers realized they could get heavily discounted rates elsewhere.

However, consumers already know this. They know you can’t buy an iPhone somewhere cheaper than Apple sells it for, but when it comes to hotel rates, there are bargains to be found everywhere for the relentless travel planner.

In theory, Expedia Group should slap online travel agency sites that tout their rates verboten, and sometimes Expedia and Marriott hammer down transgressors.

“The program is constantly evolving and building on its established success using learnings from current partners,” an Expedia Group spokesperson said. “It also has a very effective feedback loop that generates a positive, self-reinforcing cycle for both sides.”

The results for Marriott were “game-changing,” the Expedia Group spokesperson said.

A Marriott International spokesperson said, “We are pleased with the results we have seen so far. Marriott’s wholesale rate distribution has become more efficient; we have achieved greater reach, increased profitability of wholesale rates and more control.

Marriott, which began distributing wholesale rates through Expedia in 2018 and 2019 on an exclusive basis, uses its own technology tools “to monitor the integrity of our rates,” the Marriott spokesperson said.

“Since launch, we’ve seen an over 80% reduction in instances of rates and inventory not being allowed to show for Marriott hotels through metasearch channels, ultimately solidifying Marriott.com as the official channel for hotels. Marriott,” the Marriott spokesperson added.

While there has indeed been an improvement in wholesale fare distribution control – and Expedia’s addition of new partners seems to ratify this trend – it’s also clear that it’s a game of Whac-A-Mole. to try to eliminate the problem.

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