Keep up to date on all the industry news....
As a way of thanking our active military and veterans who are serving or have served our country, we invite you to participate in the B&Bs for Vets program sponsored by the Association of Independent Hospitality Providers (AIHP).
Open to all inns and B&Bs in the U.S, participation in B&Bs for Vets is easy. You simply offer one free room preferably on Sunday, November 10 (no strings attached, no buy one night/get one free – it needs to be 100% free) to a deserving veteran or active military. If this date does not work for you, select another date that fits your schedule. This year, beyond only listing free rooms near Veterans Day for veterans and active military, we intend to keep the website going year-long and list your other military discounts throughout the year. This will make the website more valuable both for you to attract military guests and for them to find offers. There is no fee for this listing that will expand your marketing opportunity to military personnel - you just need to provide one free room night in November!
EXPEDIA CLASS ACTION UPDATE
In an update, a week or so ago, I shared with your feedback that I had received from the attorney handling the Expedia Class Action Lawsuit and that through their efforts, they were closing in on finalizing a motion for summary judgment in the case. On July 26th, representatives for Expedia and the Plaintiffs (Bed & Breakfasts, Inns) appeared before a Federal Magistrate. A thank you goes to the AIHP members and other plaintiffs who are representing our industry. Thank you also to Acorn Internet Services and PAII for their collaboration with AIHP and the Expedia Class Action Plaintiff's Law Firm to help provide an industry forum for innkeepers to document their current listing with Expedia.
Update on the changes to Airbnb’s Service Fees
Below, I have summarized information about those changes that have been rolled out.
I want to clarify that all the changes rolled out are only impacting new hosts connecting to Airbnb for the first time after June 4th. If you are an existing host on Airbnb prior to June 4th, you are not impacted by this change.
Airbnb currently has 2 service fee structures:
- Shared host & guest fee: This has been our default fee structure to date, consisting of a fixed host fee (generally 3-5%) and a variable guest fee (up to 20%).
- Host-only fee: Last year, based on feedback from many of our property manager and hotel hosts, we launched a new fee structure that helps provide hosts with more control over the price displayed to guests. This is a host-only fixed fee that removes the guest fee.
I am excited to share a huge win for the B&B industry and our AIHP members! Airbnb’s web site now enables travelers to search exclusively for properties in the “Bed and Breakfasts” category simply by entering the city in the search bar on their home page.
AIHP Establishes a Legal Resource Center
Where AIHP members get exclusive access to legal help. Legal challenges are all too common for small business owners. Small Independent Lodging Properties are especially subject to a wide range of regulations at the local, state and federal levels. To help, AIHP members we have established a strong partnership with Fisher & Phillips LLP, which brings to our members a variety of legal expertise.
Fisher & Phillips LLP, is a national firm that specializes in the following:
- Labor and Employment
- Wage and Hour Law
- International Employment and
- ADA Title III/public accommodation issues.
As members, we want to support you have to take the guesswork out of the laws and regulations affecting small independent lodging with a strong partner that can counsel AIHP members on any matter that may arise.
Members get 15 minutes of free legal advice per month, and discounted rates for larger matters.
To access this exclusive benefit, contact Sam Lillard or Mat Parker, Attorney at Law and indicate that you are a member of AIHP.
AIHP Submits Amicus Brief Supporting Class Action Lawsuit Against Expedia
The class-action lawsuit addresses the practice of Expedia and other OTA’s in which they are taking the name and information of a Bed & Breakfast / Inn property and listing it on their site without any contractual or business relationship. The result is an unauthorized advertisement with false information, since Expedia has not been given room inventory by the property, and the egregious statement of “no rooms available” (or variation) diverts the potential guest from attempting to make a reservation.
Fraudulent Activity Impacting Small Independent Lodging
There continues to be fraudulent activity impacting the bed & breakfast and small innkeeping lodging. A big thank you to Wynn Salisch, Principal at Casablanca Ventures, LLC, for raising the following issues that he is seeing and steps you can take to be protected:
Here’s how the scam works and how businesses can protect themselves:
1. You get a call from someone wanting to reserve an unusually large number of rooms and/or for an unusually long stay, and they say they want to prepay the full amount of the reservation.
2. The caller may have an accent, or not. Their address and/or phone number may be outside the U.S., or not. But when you try to verify the address via the web or the phone number (by calling it back to see if it reaches the original caller), you’re unable to do so. Most of these callers are from Russia or Eastern Europe, but not exclusively, but they can often sound like locals, although if you listen carefully there may be telltale missteps in their grammar, syntax, or vocabulary.
3. Nevertheless, you run their credit card for the transaction and you receive authorization, so the transaction runs fine and a day or two later you receive the funds in your bank account.
4. But all is not fine. Days or weeks later, but before the arrival date, they call again to say they have to cancel because their mother got sick or some other reason – they’re very good at weaving plausible stories to get your sympathy and cooperation – and they ask for a refund to be run on a different card that was originally used at the time the reservation was made because the original card “isn’t available” or “was lost” or some other bogus reason.
5. You proceed to run the refund, but the card used for the refund is, unbeknownst to you, actually a gift card that can then be cashed out by the perpetrators. (There’s no way for you to tell if the card # is for a gift card or a regular debit or credit card.)
6. Sometime later, you receive a chargeback for the original transaction because the card turns out to have been stolen, but since at the time of the reservation the cardholder had not yet realized it was stolen, they hadn’t yet reported it as such, so the issuing bank thought it was still valid and authorized the transaction. Under Visa rules (which tend to drive the entire credit card industry), the merchant is always liable for stolen card transactions even if authorization was originally received).
7. So now you’re out the original transaction amount because of the chargeback, PLUS the amount you refunded, and you have no recourse.
LESSON: If a transaction seems suspicious or even if it’s not outwardly suspicious but any of the above conditions are present, innkeepers and property owners should trust their gut and call their credit card processor.
You can check out all our AIHP Allied Partner members that can assist by clicking here….
Are You Prepared for the 2nd Annual #BookDirect Day on February 6, 2019?
Travel forecasters are predicting 2019 to be a great year for the travel industry. While big cities are still on the list of popular destinations, there has been a shift in interest, most notably to smaller towns that are somewhat off the beaten path. More travelers are being lured to the less-known and less-traveled, which can be a big plus for many Inns and B&Bs.
However, as millions of people start planning their trips for this year, they’re also being lured to third-party sites to book their accommodations. As we’ve all seen, that means less control and higher fees… but there’s hope!
Mark your calendars for February 6, 2019 – the 2nd Annual #BookDirect Guest Education Day. Click hereto learn more ways to get involved.
Are We on the Verge of a Parity Nightmare?
If you did not get a chance to see the piece from Triptease, this past week, I would encourage you to take some time to read it. They have published a white paper that lays out a pretty compelling reveal of Booking.com having rolled out their Booking. basic feature in Europe and feel that it will find its way to the United States soon.
“Booking.com appears to have rolled out it's Booking. basic feature to European hotel listings, six months after it was first spotted on listings for hotels in Asia. Booking. Basic is an accommodation tier that periodically appears on Booking.com’s hotel listings when the rate provided to Booking.com is not the cheapest available online.” - Triptease
The report really digs into:
- Why Rate Parity Matters
- Preserving a Property’s brand integrity
- Protecting your direct revenue stream
- The issue of rate leakage
- What Booking.basic does
- Why the root of the problem is rogue wholesale rates
- How this will affect your hotel (property)
- Where the industry goes from here
These are issues that we will continue to keep our eye on for the industry. Please hold Wednesday, February 20th @ 2 PM for an industry chat about the issues this report addresses. More details to follow.
For our Association Partners, I am sharing the GrowthZone Association 2019 Survey Report. It is a great tool with up-to-date statistics and broad feedback from association professionals.
Some of this year’s topics include - Staff-to-member ratios, Board performance, Referral programs, Advocacy and more!
It also incorporates dozens of predictions from association professionals about what’s on the horizon for the association industry.
Message from the Chair, Board of Directors, AIHP
Greetings Fellow Innkeepers, Aspiring Innkeepers, and Allied Partner Members!
It is my distinct honor, on behalf of a wonderful and dedicated Board of Directors, to wish you and family a Happy New Year! Looking back at 2018, and under the excellent direction of Rob Fulton, CEO, we finished the year strong financially and with a very positive outlook for the future. We were busy working on providing more value for your membership dollars and putting in place more effective ways to communicate important industry information. Your Board has spent countless hours working with Rob and his talented staff and volunteers to deliver on the promise we made when we started AIHP 4 years ago – to bring relevant educational value, advocacy on critical issues, and networking opportunities to the membership and industry.
Update on the Expedia Class Action Lawsuit
As I shared a few weeks ago, on Monday, December 3rd, the Expedia Class Action suit was heard in a California court. While we don’t have all the details yet, here is what we do know:
- The attorney did say he felt the hearing went well for the industry.
- Expedia was found in violation of the Lanham Act (which addresses trademark infringement and false advertising).
- The judge said the violation is 'systemic' and not random.
- We know the amicus briefs submitted by AIHP and PAII in support of the case had an impact on the hearing
- As soon as we learn more, we'll pass it on to you.
Details of the Suit - Addresses the practice of Expedia and its subsidiaries taking the name and information of a Bed & Breakfast / Inn property (referred to as 'hotel') and listing it on their site without any contractual or business relationship.
The sought-after relief by the Plaintiffs is described in the following 5 prohibitions and mandates:
- Expedia shall include a disclaimer below the name of any non-contracted property indicating that Expedia may not have accurate information regarding the hotel's vacancy status.
- Expedia shall not represent that a non-contracted hotel is "sold out" / unavailable if they do not have current information from the hotel confirming this.
- Expedia shall not put any phone number next to the picture of the non-contracted hotel unless it is the hotel's phone number, or unless Expedia clearly indicates it is an Expedia call center number.
- Expedia shall not intentionally seek out search engine advertising/links when a consumer searches for the name of a non-contracted hotel.
- Expedia shall not display a hotel's information/availability received from a third party without informing the hotel and receiving the hotel's consent.
Click here for a copy of the Amicus Brief that AIHP has filed.
evivo Purchases Rezovation and Webervations
Just this morning we read the announcement that Rezovation and Webervations have been sold to eviivo, a leading online booking specialist for independent hotels and bed and breakfasts. This is what we know at the moment.
The following is from an email from Janice Hurley, Head of Industry Relations:
RezOvation and Webervations software have serviced the innkeeping community for almost 20 years. As the product and industry have evolved, we’ve worked to keep up with trends, technology, and our customer needs. We know our products have had functionality and features missing that our customers have needed and wanted.
eviivo is a leading all-in-one booking management solution supporting small property owners and associations all over the world. eviivo not only keeps up with the industry, but they are also one of the few who leads the way in technology, security, and most importantly direct connectivity to online channels such as Expedia, Booking.com, AirBnb, and HomeAway. eviivo’s flagship product eviivo suite is a cloud-based solution that provides a simple way to manage bookings, guests, and travel agencies.
Also - eviivo CARES! Since its inception eviivo has supported small properties and B&B’s throughout Europe and the UK. They are excited to bring that same support to innkeepers in the US.
What does this mean for RezOvation/Webervations Customers?
As of today, nothing will change with the way these customers work with RezO/Weber. We will continue to operate RezOvation and Webervations businesses as usual. Over the next several months RezOvation and Webervations customers will be migrated to the eviivo suite. This will replace the existing RezOvation and Webervations platforms.
What does this mean for associations using Webervations?
As of today nothing will change with the way associations work with Webervations. eviivo has an existing association platform that they currently provide for associations they are working with. As the migration plan evolves we’ll be reaching out to share details on how we’ll be migrating associations and their members to the upgraded software.
Both companies want to ensure that this process is as smooth as possible so we are working on an automated strategy that will allow for a simple upgrade.
Here is what was shared with RezOvation / Webervation customers earlier today:
- RezOvation and Webervations will continue to operate as it does today during this migration.
- The upgrade to eviivo will start in the coming months. We will be reaching out to each property directly with migration details.
- Data transfer, account setup, tools and information will be part of the migration plan. We aim to make it simple.
- The migration will include direct connectivity to our existing partners Expedia and Priceline.
- We will update customers soon with additional details about eviivo suite, the new software, upgrade plans, and your options.
- Our existing RezO/Weber customer support team is still available. They will help properties through this process and do our best to answer questions they have. http://www.rezovation.com/support
CELEBRATING THREE YEARS – LOOK AT WHAT WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED
Can you believe on June 1st AIHP turned three years old? While AIHP is young of age, and growing as an association, I believe we have an “old soul”. Not only do we celebrate our aspiring and newly minted innkeepers, we have strong support from seasoned, long-standing innkeepers and allied partners who have been the cornerstone of this industry for many years. Coupled with the freshness of new innkeepers, our membership mix brings wonderful creativity and a depth of knowledge that we believe is unmatched.
We’re extremely pleased that what started out as a vision to create a new nonprofit association that would have a very positive influence on the innkeeping industry has turned into a vibrant national association that continues to deliver on that promise.
Click here to read the full story
B&B’s UNBOUND – The State of B&B’s in the U.S. – January 2018
The new face of the B&B Traveler as the B&B Industry exceeds $4 billion annually
While bed and breakfasts are among the oldest lodging options in the USA, this sector of the lodging industry is often overlooked, favoring hotels or the newer concept of short-term vacation rentals. To garner an up-to-date view of the B&B industry and a clear picture of today’s B&B traveler, the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals (AIHP), the national, member-driven non-profit association, BedandBreakfast.com, the world’s largest B&B travel site and parent-company, Homeaway.com worked with Phocuswright, the leading travel industry research authority in the USA, to undertake a major research project to study the U.S. B&B market. A four-pronged approach guided the study including a B&B operator survey, a consumer survey of B&B guests and non-guests, market sizing and industry interviews. The primary objective was to map the size, scope, and opportunities for the B&B industry in an extensive research project.
To read the press release click here.
To read a copy of the study click here.
Support Industry Research
One of the key initiatives in AIHP’s strategic plan is to help facilitate and support the development of current and timely industry research. As an industry, we need to be able to provide our members with the type of industry data that will help you make good business decisions. Good research also helps provide data for AIHP as we advocate about the impact our industry makes on the overall economy. We are raising funds to support this study, as well as other industry research needs that are critical to our industry. Please click here to make a contribution.
GDPR = General Data Protection Regulation Information
Compliance with GDPR, went into effect May 25th, 2018. How complicated this will be, depends on the number of services you use to hold the guest/contact data. The Webinar shares with you information as currently understood the GDPR requirements.
What Do You Need to Do:
The webinar will make you aware of items that you will want to discuss with the following individuals:
2. Reservation company
3. Any 3rd party marketing groups.
4. Contact your/an attorney
A big thank you to Lisa Kolb with Acorn Internet Services for presenting this webinar. Also, a thank you to PAII for their partnership with AIHP and facilitating this webinar. This is an awareness webinar only. Innkeepers will need to address these issues with their own representatives, and legal counsel in order to determine their own individual levels of compliance with their business.
Here is some additional information on GDPR:
Please share with Rob any additional information you have at firstname.lastname@example.org
OTHER CRITICAL INDUSTRY NEWS
Airbnb Will Accept Vermont's Proposed Short-Term Rental Legislation - read more...
TripAdvisor Meeting Rescheduled for Wednesday, May 30th - read more...
AIHP Year-End Report - read more...
BedandBreakfast.com's 7th Annual Best B&B Breakfast Tournament - read more...
The most underrated US attractions: readers' travel tips from the Guardian - read more...