Hotels Magazine just broke a nice story on a squabble that has erupted between Choice and Expedia that is eerily reminiscent of a fight between Expedia and IHG several years ago.
This time around, Choice Hotels brands are no longer showing on Expedia and Hotels.com. This even includes white labels such as Expedia's co-branded AARP product. It is unclear if Egencia users are also shut out from Choice properties. It also isn't clear (yet) if Choice made the move or Expedia did but one thing is for sure - it is lights out for Comfort Inn et al on Expedia.
As you may recall, the last time we saw a major, public hotel riff was when Intercontinental Hotels (IHG) and Expedia went to war several years ago over a number of issues including display, content and, of course, margin. All the parties closely involved in that dispute (on both sides) have moved on to bigger and better things (think real estate site Zillow for the Expedia gang) but everyone we've talked to would largely like to forget the incident. There were no real winners in the long term.
The timing of this fall-out is interesting. The lodging sector is hardly strong right now - most hoteliers are looking for every penny of revenue they can scrape - harder to do when you are not appearing on the world's largest online travel agency. And Expedia has been working hard to cultivate a new culture of positive supplier relations. On the other hand, the budget-oriented chains such as Choice have fared better in this downturn than the up-scale brands so maybe Choice felt they could withstand going dark in order to make a point.
So, did Expedia make a choice or did Choice make a choice? We'll be watching this closely....