Representatives from the UK’s hospitality sector and the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are hosting forums across the country amid concern over the power of the largest OTAs.
UKHospitality – the group formed after the merger of The ALMR and British Hospitality Association – hosted a forums in Edinburgh on March 5, in Cardiff on March 9 and has plans for more in London, Birmingham and Manchester.
They will include details on the CMA’s ongoing consumer law investigation into online hotel booking platforms and its previous competition law work.
UKHospitality says industry members have expressed concern at the power of the largest online travel agencies (OTAs), such as Expedia and Booking.com, and the effect of some non-negotiable OTA contract terms which are unclear to hoteliers. Presentations at the forums will explain how the terms work contractually and in practice.
Speakers from the CMA will also discuss its consumer investigation into:
– Listing/ranking according to commission paid, not relevance to consumer
– Misleading reference pricing/discounting
– Drip pricing
– Scarcity claims
– Best Price Guarantees
Rate parity clauses and pricing flexibility will also be discussed.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive at UKHospitality, said: “We are leading the campaign for a fair market and a more competitive landscape. We are delighted to be working with the Competition and Markets Authority and to provide feedback from our members to inform discussion. We hope to find a balance between digital agencies operating globally and the many hospitality providers, often SMEs in our industry, who strive to provide the best possible hospitality for their guests.”
Cecilia Parker-Aranha, project director at the CMA, added: “We welcome this opportunity to work with UKHospitality and engage with hoteliers across the UK to explain our recent work in online hotel booking, both from a competition and consumer law perspective”.