April 24, 2015

Booking.com rate parity settlement only a half-step forward


For some online travel experts the ruling does little to open the way for real competition in a market that has become dominated by Booking.com and Expedia. And for hoteliers in the UK the settlement behind closed doors is wrong as it still allows Booking.com to ban hotels that offer lower rates on their own websites.

Accor, Europe’s largest hotel group by number of rooms, said that the decision had “partially” met its expectations. But it warned: “For this decision to have a real impact and unleash a drop in online travel agents’ commissions, Expedia and all the other online players will have to agree to the same commitments, allowing real competition to develop.”

“It doesn’t help competition and it’s terrible for the consumer — hotels can’t offer them anything but the same price they offer Booking.com. And there are very few rival travel agents in the market,” said Dorian Harris, the chief executive of Skoosh, an online travel agent that brought the first competition complaint in the UK in 2010.

Booking.com has been labeled 'a bully' by hoteliers in the UK after it reached a settlement in Europe that means it can ban hotels on its site from offering cheaper rates on their own websites.

"The Bed & Breakfast Association believes that this new settlement, thrashed out behind closed doors in Europe, is wrong, anti-competitive, and against the interests of consumers," said B&B Association chief executive David Weston.

Get the full story at Travolution and the Financial Times

Read also "Booking.com to abandon rate parity in Europe"