Debate continues over the new deal set up by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to regulate hotel rates, with a statement from Booking.com, an apparent ACCC contradiction spotted, and a comment from Accor Asia Pacific chairman and chief operating officer, Michael Issenberg.
The ACCC deal affects rates available through online travel agents (OTAs) and those available direct from hotels. It lets hotels offer travellers a cheaper rate direct than those available through OTAs – but they still can’t do so online. See: ACCC helps hoteliers win partial victory over OTAs and Another accom group slams ‘secret’ ACCC deal
Yesterday, Booking.com issued a statement:
“Booking.com is committed to great pricing and a fantastic, seamless experience for customers. We are fiercely dedicated to fostering healthy competition in the marketplace by providing consumers with the best possible prices and by creating opportunities for accommodation owners to easily market their product globally.
“We believe that parity actually encourages healthy competition between properties by facilitating the easiest and most transparent price comparison process for consumers and actively helps keep prices lower for consumers.”
In Sydney last night, Accor Asia Pacific chairman and chief operating officer, Michael Issenberg, described OTAs as “frenemies”. Hotels needed travel agents, he said. A problem arose if OTAs become too greedy. An entity charging 10% was one thing, but when it grew to 15% or 20% – that was another.
Meanwhile, Martin Kelly’s authoritative Travel Trends uncovered a seeming contradiction in two ACCC rulings.
On the one hand, the ACCC has “relentlessly pursued Flight Centre, taking Australia’s biggest retailer all the way to High Court, accusing it of anti-competitive behaviour by pressuring Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Emirate to offer it their lowest fares.
“On the other hand,” Travel Trends points out, “the ACCC has just said in the strongest possible terms different rules apply in accommodation by cutting a deal with the global online travel retail duopoly of Booking.com and Expedia that gives each of these companies the right to stop hoteliers from offering better deals than them on the web.”
As Kelly notes: “The two outcomes are completely contradictory – in one case the ACCC has backed the right of suppliers (airlines) to undercut retailers; in the other they’ve said suppliers (hoteliers) cannot offer lower rates than retailers.” See: http://www.traveltrends.biz/ttn555-dazed-and-very-confused-accc-loses-the-plot-with-two-contradictory-travel-rulings/
The debate continues!
Written by Peter Needham