The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) wants operators of accommodation businesses to alert it to competition concerns about the online travel agency market.
The ACCC is considering whether the use of price parity clauses and last room availability clauses by online travel agents (OTAs) in their dealings with accommodation providers raise any competition concerns under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The Accommodation Association of Australia is encouraging operators to provide their views through an ACCC questionnaire.
“The Accommodation Association has been advocating for the ACCC to re-examine the level of competition in the online travel agency market for some time, therefore the association is pleased that ACCC is currently consulting with operators in our industry on this issue,” Accommodation Association chief executive, Richard Munro, said yesterday.
“Concerns about a lack of competition in the online travel agency market were raised at the time of Expedia’s takeover of Wotif.com last year.
“These were amplified when operators were recently notified that the other dominant player in the market, Priceline (Booking.com), would increase the commission rate that it charges accommodation operators from 12% to 15%.
“With the dominant collective market share that the two leading players have among Australian operators, our industry is facing a similar scenario to the dominance that the two major supermarket chains have in Australia’s retail sector.”
On behalf of operators, the Accommodation Association intends to make a submission to the ACCC which highlights these important competition policy issues.
“It’s vital that the voices of individual operators of accommodation businesses are heard in this debate, which is why the Accommodation Association would like to see them complete the questionnaire,” Munro said.
“The more that the two leading players are able to dominate the online travel agency market, the more that margins in our industry will be squeezed.”
The questionnaire can be accessed on the ACCC’s website: https://consultation.accc.gov.au/communications/online-accommodation-booking-sector/consultation/subpage.2015-09-02.3809780468/view
The deadline for responses is 27 September 2015. The ACCC says completing the survey will take about 20 minutes and advises respondents: “In your responses you should consider any confidentiality clauses in the agreement you have signed and how much to disclose in the questions inviting free text comments.”
Edited by Peter Needham