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Published on Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hotels slam online travel agent for price fixing



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 online travel agent agreed with French, Italian and Swedish authorities that hotels can offer rival online agents cheaper rates than booking.com, but they can't offer lower rates on their own websites. They can, however, offer cheaper rates over the phone.


The deal was sanctioned by the EU, but the B&B Association in the UK said Booking.com was using its dominant position in the market to bully small independent B&Bs and hotels. It has asked the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to intervene to prevent its enforcement in the UK.


According to an article in the Financial Times, Booking.com controls 41% of air and hotel bookings in Europe.


"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.


"Booking.com should not be allowed to prevent B&Bs and hotels from offering their lowest prices on their own websites. Further, Booking.com, Expedia and other OTAs should not be allowed to buy top places on web searches by bidding on the names of individual hotels and B&Bs without their permission for pay-per-click search advertising on Google."


In the UK, the CMA reopened an investigation into price-fixing between hotels and online travel agents last year and the CMA said the outcome of the European inquiry would influence its final decision.

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  • Booking.com dominate the market

    In reply to Jon Rankin, Booking.com now dominate the market with 41% in Europe. Owners Priceline trade under different brands too, and they are taking share from smaller rivals by using their market dominance to take search traffic.

    By David Weston, Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • Why use Booking.com

    Surely the answer is to these properties - don't use Booking.com . Use an OTA that doesn't have this stipulation. I have managed to book all my travel online or directly over the last 7 years and have only once used Booking.com. They are not indespensible.

    By Jon Rankin, Thursday, April 23, 2015

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