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Accom Assn calls for hotelier submissions on OTAs

December 15, 2016 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) has called for accommodation providers to provide submissions to back its drive to have Australia’s competition regulator re-open its inquiry into online travel agencies.

AAoA chief executive Richard Munro says he has received a letter from the chairman of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Rod Sims, “and in it, the ACCC has invited industry to send evidence of practices that OTAs are undertaking that are causing concern.

“It is very important that we respond to this invitation from the ACCC and we must provide tangible evidence that can be acted upon, not hearsay,” Munro wrote.http://itcmchina.com/

“The AAoA have been very active with the regulator as we believe the market dominance of Expedia and Booking.com and practices such as rate parity, last room availability and dimming, to name a few, are having a negative impact on our industry’s ability to pass on the best price for our customers.”

Munro spoke on the subject in a six-minute segment broadcast on ABC Radio last week. You can listen to it on Soundcloud here.

Munro told listeners they could get better rates just by walking into properties and negotiating than by booking through OTAs.

“My advice is it’s always better to talk to a property direct. They’ve got some wiggle-room.”

Consumers could negotiate deals that perhaps included breakfast or a late checkout, he said. Big OTAs couldn’t arrange that, he added.

Speaking of the ACCC deal which lets hoteliers offer lower prices to consumers by phone or verbally, but not via the internet, Munro asked: “What about carrier pigeons?”

He said the stipulation was unfair, considering Expedia and Booking.com “control about 80% to 85% of the market.

For hoteliers, “there is no negotiation” with the OTAs, Munro alleged.

“You either sign up or you don’t sign up – and if you don’t sign up you’re probably going to lose about 30% of your business.”

Munro appealed to hotel and motel owners to “please forward any evidence, comments or other relevant material to us via email: ceo@aaoa.com.au

“If it helps, we can remove any identification to your property before we send information on to the ACCC. Let’s ensure the regulator is given every opportunity to fix the situation as soon as possible.”

Responding to the moves, Booking.com’s Oceania Regional Manager, Tracey Foxall commented that Booking.com remained “fiercely dedicated to fostering healthy competition in the marketplace by providing consumers with the best possible prices.

“We believe that parity actually encourages healthy competition between properties by facilitating the easiest and most transparent price comparison process for consumers and that online booking sites, such as Booking.com actively help keep prices lower for consumers.

“Booking.com brings incremental business which properties may not be able to generate themselves, at least not without making a substantial marketing investment on their own which ultimately results in additional costs, higher room prices, and no guarantee of results.

“In order to maintain our ability to generate significant customer leads for our partners, and invest in all of the new digital technology required to do so effectively, we need to ensure that our partners don’t undercut Booking.com in pricing.

“This is why parity commitments ensure partners provide the same rates on Booking.com as they do via their own direct online channels. This directly ensures that we can continue to give our customers great prices through a service they love, as well as continue to help all our accommodation partners – big and small – fill their rooms and grow their businesses.”

Written by Peter Needham

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