Views on just what good-value hotel deals online bookers are getting are being sought by fair trading chiefs in the UK.
The UK's Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is already investigating the dealings two online travel agents (OTAs) – Expedia and Booking.com – have with the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).
The OFT alleges that the two OTAs “each entered into separate agreements with IHG which restricted each OTA’s ability to discount the rate at which room-only hotel accommodation bookings are offered to consumers”.
Expedia, Booking.com and IHG have now proposed commitments to address the OFT’s concerns and today the OFT said it was asking interested parties to give their views on the commitments.
Ann Pope, senior director in the OFT’s services, infrastructure and public markets group, said: “The OFT is consulting on whether these commitments offer an immediate and effective means of injecting some meaningful price competition into the online offering of room-only hotel accommodation bookings where, in our provisional view, none may exist.
“Under the proposed commitments, OTAs would be able to offer discounts off hotel room bookings to qualifying consumers. The OFT would now like to hear the views of all interested parties before it makes its decision on whether to accept the commitments.”’
The OFT said it had limited the scope of its investigation to a small number of major companies, with a view to achieving a swift and effective outcome.
The OFT added: “However, the investigation is likely to have wider implications as the alleged practices are potentially widespread in distribution arrangements in the industry."