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DOJ Decision on Expedia Merger

Thursday, September 17, 2015  
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DOJ Decision on Expedia Merger

The following information was sent from Katherine Luger, President & CEO of AH&LA, regarding yesterday's Department of Justice decision on the Expedia/Orbitz merger.

Dear Industry Leader,

I am reaching out to share an update with you on the proposed acquisition of Orbitz by Expedia. We have just received a call from the Department of Justice (DOJ) informing us of their decision to approve the proposed deal with no merger conditions. They expect to make the announcement shortly after 4:00 pm today.

Today’s news is certainly unfortunate and we will be issuing a press statement critical of the outcome. As we have done to date, our focus will be on the impact to small and independent hotels and consumers.

Our decision as an industry to publicly oppose the deal was important and executed according to plan. Most importantly, we showed our continued willingness to stand up to protect small and independent business owners and consumer choice. We enlisted a chorus of other supporters who feel the same: key leaders in Congress, consumer groups and the general public. In so doing, we’ve sent a clear message to online travel companies that as an industry, we will take action on decisions that we believe will pose harm to our industry and our guests.

With our unified voice, we raised public awareness about the negative impact of online travel consolidation and garnered prominent national media attention through exclusive stories in the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal and elsewhere, including the Associated Press, Politico and important anti-trust trade publications. There is little question that both regulators and the Hill will have heightened sensitivity to these issues in the future, and both the dialogue established around the Expedia-Orbitz debate, combined with our work on deceptive practices where we have now generated more than 300 million media impressions, will provide an important backdrop for us moving forward.

Ultimately, it appears, that the DOJ considered Orbitz as an insignificant player in the marketplace. The industry knows that is not true and while we strongly disagree with that position, our work with members of Congress and invested consumer advocacy groups to monitor the outcome of this decision and its impact on consumers and our industry continues unabated.

The relationships we have cemented over these many months working alongside officials at the Department of Justice on this issue will serve us well in the future as online distribution channels evolve, gaining more traction and ever more consolidation that will undoubtedly attract more Congressional and government scrutiny.

As always, AH&LA will continue to play a major role in the distribution arena and, with your united support, we will advance our industry on behalf of our members and our guests.

Regards,
Katherine

For more information on this decision or to discuss the implications, please contact Eric Terry, President of VHTA, at eric@vhta.org.


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