The commission rates paid in Australia had long been behind the global average of 20 to 25 per cent because Wotif had charged less than owner Priceline and Expedia did overseas. But after Expedia bought Wotif for $703 million last year, it raised Wotif's rates to 15 per cent from 12 per cent and Qantas-owned Hooroo raised its rates to 13 per cent from 10 per cent. Michael Issenberg, the Asia-Pacific chairman of Australia's largest hotel chain, Accor, said his group's focus on direct distribution had increased as a result of the Expedia-Wotif deal. "The cost of [online travel agents] has traditionally been lower in Australia than in other markets," he said during a visit to Sydney last week. "It is creeping up. And as it creeps up it is even more important than ever to generate business in your own distribution channels." As a result, Accor, whose brands include Sofitel, Pullman, Mercure and Ibis, is taking a more focused approach to distribution by creating a single AccorHotels app for all of the brands. It is also creating packages for loyalty members, such as $20 a day adult drinks and children's meal deals which are unavailable for those booking through online travel agents. Rival Hilton Hotels is now offering free wifi for all members of its loyalty program, no matter how high their tier, so long as they book their stay directly. Get the full story at the Financial Review