Today, competition authorities in France, Italy, and Sweden accepted commitments from online booking website Booking.com. Under these commitments, hotel owners are allowed to offer lower prices for their rooms on platforms other than Booking.com. According to the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), the competition concerns, which are associated with the best price guarantee that Booking.com had imposed on hotel owners, are taken away, while retaining the benefits to consumers. Booking.com plans to implement the commitments in the Netherlands as well. ACM believes this will result in more options for hotel owners to vary their offerings on various booking sites. For consumers, this means they will have more options to choose from. As a result, competition between the various hotel booking sites is expected to increase.
What was the problem?
Consumers appreciate platforms such as Booking.com when searching, comparing and booking hotel rooms. For hotels, these kinds of platforms have also become a major channel for reaching their customers. The ‘lowest price guarantee’ that Booking.com demands from hotels poses competition risks. Yet, booking sites also offer consumers benefits, and therefore set conditions that are necessary for the functioning of individual booking sites.
ACM is involved in the pan-European approach
ACM actively participated in the search for good solutions to the cases in France, Italy, and Sweden, as well as in the coordinated pan-European approach. ACM so far has refrained from launching an investigation of its own, as it expected that this pan-European approach would eliminate risks in the Dutch market.
Introducing Booking.com’s commitments in the Netherlands
Booking.com plans to implement the commitments in the Netherlands as well. That means that, among other things, hotels have the opportunity to use different prices (than on Booking.com) on different sales channels (for example on other platforms besides Booking.com or for travel agents). Competition between booking sites is expected to increase, which is something consumers and hotels are able to take advantage of. ACM will continue to keep a close watch on the market and on developments in that market, following Booking.com’s commitments.