ACCC acts on OTAs – but is it enough?

Travel Bulletin - - STATE OF THE INDUSTRY -

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”.

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