Today Booking.com, an operating business of The Priceline Group announced it will amend its parity terms with all accommodations partners in Europe by 1 July 2015 to be consistent with the binding commitments given to the French, Italian and Swedish National Competition Authorities (“NCAs”) in April, and in line with its commitment to a new Europe-wide standard to keep competition healthy, driving value for consumers and hoteliers.
Since agreeing to the commitments with the French, Italian and Swedish NCAs, Booking.com announced its intent to implement these commitments throughout Europe. Booking.com’s decision today is a direct result of feedback from many European NCAs indicating that they would welcome Booking.com implementing the commitments in their jurisdiction.
Under the new provisions, Booking.com will abandon its price, availability and booking conditions parity provisions with respect to other online travel agencies. This will create an environment that supports increased transparency and competition among online travel agencies which will ultimately benefit consumers, as well as hoteliers, by encouraging properties to offer different pricing and booking policies (e.g. free cancellation, WIFI, breakfast) through different online travel agencies.
Booking.com will retain its “narrow MFNs” for prices and booking conditions which will ensure hotels offer the same rates and booking conditions on Booking.com as they do through their own direct website, in order to ensure Booking.com can continue to be a cost-effective marketing channel for partners and deliver transparency, choice and great prices for consumers. Under these new conditions, Booking.com can continue to provide a valuable service to consumers that delivers transparency, access to information, choice, value and a seamless experience, and a valuable service to hotels by providing highly cost-effective marketing to help hotels promote their properties around the world, reach new subsets of travelers and fill their rooms to keep their businesses growing.
Today’s announcement means that Booking.com’s standard terms will be the same for all of its European partners – helping to build a single European digital economy.
“The commitments agreed with the French, Italian and Swedish NCAs promote competition in a way that supports innovation and investment. We think that all of our European partners and consumers booking at European hotels should benefit from the commitments agreed to with the French, Italian and Swedish NCAs which is why we have decided to amend voluntarily our parity provisions right throughout Europe to be consistent with those commitments,” said Gillian Tans, President of Booking.com. “We welcome and encourage fair competition and hope that our fellow online travel agencies follow Booking.com’s lead as part of a shared commitment to support best pricing for consumers.”
With the implementation of the new parity provisions, Booking.com will continue its Best Price Guarantee and match any lower price that may be found on another booking website. Booking.com will also continue to innovate in the way it works with its accommodations partners to highlight and promote to its global customer base the best deals on the Internet.
“The Internet has revolutionized the travel experience for people all over the world who seek transparency, access to better information, great value and a better booking experience, as well as for hoteliers looking to grow their business by expanding their global customer base through new digital marketing channels,” said Federico J. Gonzalez Tejera, CEO – NH Hotel Group. “Booking.com has been an important partner for us and we look forward to continuing this partnership under the new terms.”
Booking.com trusts that these changes will set the tone for an industry wide solution.