Australian competition watchdog forces Expedia and Booking to allow competition
The agreements extend to the largest online travel sites used in Australia for Australian accommodation including Booking.com, Wotif.com, Hotels.com, and Expedia.com and will remove barriers to price competition between major online travel sites for hotel bookings.
Parity clauses generally require accommodation providers to offer best price and availability to online travel sites. This guarantees the online travel site the accommodation provider’s lowest rate and prevents competitors and consumers from negotiating better deals directly with the provider.
“The ACCC commenced its investigation after accommodation providers raised a range of concerns, including that these parity clauses were anti-competitive as they stopped consumers from getting different prices from competing online sites,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.
“Australian accommodation providers will now be able to tailor their offers to better meet the needs of their customers and their own businesses requirements.
“They will now be able to offer lower rates through telephone bookings and walk-ins, offer special rates and deals to customer loyalty groups, in addition to offering deals via Expedia and Booking.com.”
The ACCC conducted a range of targeted market inquiries, including an online questionnaire to Australian accommodation providers seeking specific information about their dealings with online travel sites.
After reviewing over 500 responses and speaking with industry participants, the ACCC identified the key issues as the use of broad price parity and room availability clauses by online travel sites. ■