ACCC acts on OTAs – but is it enough?
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission made a big noise last month when it announced the outcome of a review of contracts between Australian hotels and online accommodation giants Expedia and Booking.com. The OTAS had reached an agreement to amend price and availability parity clauses in the contracts, with the ACCC claiming the pact would “remove barriers to price competition” by allowing properties to offer lower rates to clients booking over the phone or as walk-ins, as well as to customer loyalty groups. However the accommodation sector wasn’t pleased with the outcome, saying the agreement did not go far enough to protect hotels and consumers. In particular, Expedia and Booking.com are still able to prohibit hotels from offering lower rates online – which is clearly a key issue. Tourism Accommodation Australia ceo Carol Giuseppi said “We advised the ACCC it should have insisted that OTAS allow hotels to set their own rates online… smaller hotels in particular feel very vulnerable to the power of the global OTA duopoly”.