Briefs: Smotel launches in Greece; A.M.A. New vacation booking platform

Greece launches new hospitality brand: Small hotel operations in Greece will be represented under one brand, Smotel, which was launched by the Greek Confederation of Tourist Accommodation Enterprises (SETKE) this week. The brand has been launched to create a new generation of accommodation which will meet travelers’ demands, while offering new experiences. The launch of Smotel follows SETKE’s Breakfast Basket and Alternative Holiday Experiences projects, which are targeted at improving tourist experience through modern hospitality services. Tourist accommodation facilities of any size and category can obtain a brand certification if they offer upgraded services and amenities. Accommodation enterprises will get the Smotel certification if they successfully meet some specifications and provide services like Breakfast Basket or, for lower hotel categories, at least one experiential tourism activity. The confederation is represented by over 30,000 small accommodation facilities across Greece.

Luxury villa Bastide Des Baux in Provence, France

A.M.A. Selections’ new booking platform: Cannes, France-based luxury vacation rental booking platform A.M.A. Selections is set to launch in April. The platform seeks to disrupt the usual ‘browse and book’ model of the online travel market. Launched in 2014, A.M.A. Selections has been establishing itself at the luxury villa rental industry. The new platform will include an advanced user dashboard, custom shareable trip itinerary and digital concierge. The company recently added eight new destinations, including Mykonos, the French Alps and Paros. A.M.A. Selections currently offers more than 1,000 properties across over 100 locations in Europe. Following the launch of the new platform, the company will continue tech development and global expansion.

Lawsuit filed over South Dakota hotel banning Native Americans: A lawsuit was filed in Rapid City, South Dakota, over a social media post by the owner of Grand Gateway Hotel banning Native Americans on the property. Connie Uhre, one of the owners of the hotel in Rapid City, posted on Sunday that she would not allow Native Americans on the property, following a shooting at the hotel on Saturday involving two Native American teenagers. The hotel’s Manager Red Elk Zephier, all of the staff and some hotel workers quit after Uhre posted about the ban, Elk Zephier told the media. Demonstrators assembled outside a federal courthouse to cheer the lawsuit and held a rally and prayer meeting in response to the Uhre’s social media post.

Tech giants face crackdown with new EU law: Tech giants, like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple and Booking Holdings Inc., are likely to face drastic changes to their operational methods in the European Union after negotiators agreed upon the new Digital Markets Act, which will target “gatekeeper” companies with the power to control distribution in their markets. The new rule will make messaging applications interoperable to check users from being tied to a single network, allow users to choose their own default search engine, virtual assistant and web browser when they purchase a new smartphone, ensure fair access conditions for their app stores, get explicit consent to merge personal data to target ads and ban companies from ranking their products higher than their competitors. The law is likely to be implemented from early 2023. For an initial violation of the law, a company will be penalized 10% of its global annual sales, increasing to 20% for repeat breaches. Companies that regularly violate the rules will be temporarily banned from conducting mergers and acquisitions. “Gatekeepers” include companies with a market value of €75 billion (US$82.42 billion) or €7.5 billion (US$8.24 billion) in annual revenue within the EU, a minimum of 45 million monthly end users and 10,000 yearly business users of at least one core platform (which includes virtual assistants and web browsers).

Mass tourist cancelations in Poland: Hotels and travel agencies in Poland have been reporting mass cancelations and a sudden collapse in new bookings as the war in neighboring Ukraine rages on. The state tourism agency, Polish Tourist Organisation, has reassured international travelers that Poland although the country is receiving a large number of refugees, it is not directly threatened by the war and remains a safe destination to visit. The state body said countries like the U.S. has been perceiving the entire Central and Eastern Europe regions as a war zone, resulting in American organizations canceling study visits and tourism industry workshops. The loss of revenue, however, is being compensated partially by the mass arrivals of fleeing Ukrainians (more than two million) with some getting accommodation in hotels although their stays are unpredictable, brief and last-minute.