Rate parity was introduced by the chains, not the OTAs, noted Melissa Maher, global VP of strategic accounts and industry relations, Expedia. “We think it helps the brand promise of chains,” she said. “If you look at our promotions and our global reach, we get a billion searches on our sites a day, so we think we bring visibility. What is changing is our hotel partners are trying to capture that business on their own. We think we’re a demand generator, and we support the hotel taking the customer, whether they convert on Expedia or a brand site or another OTA that’s great too.” The opaque online merchants aren’t so opaque anymore, said Cindy Estis Green, managing partner, The Estis Group. “Because the rates that are out on Priceline, they are so transparent, so heavily promoted, what happens is you’ve got meeting planners seeing these … all of a sudden everything is brought down to that OTA rate, what once was best available rate is now lowest available rate,” she said. “The anchor rate is now this prominent rate, which is often a promotional rate.” Get the full story at HotelNewsNow.com