Leading global OTA Booking.com is changing its price parity agreements throughout Europe to meet new commitment s given to the French, Italian and Swedish National Competition Authorities.
The new agreement means Booking.com will abandon its price, availability and booking conditions parity provisions with respect to other online travel agencies.
It said this will “create an environment that supports increased transparency and competition among online travel agencies which will ultimately benefit consumers, as well as hoteliers”.
Booking.com said it hoped its voluntary move will “set the tone for an industry wide solution” to the price parity issue.
Commitments were made in April to the national competition authorities in France, Italy and Sweden. The new price parity agreements will come in on July 1, Booking.com parent Priceline said.
It said the decision to implement the commitments throughout Europe comes after feedback from many European competition authorities.
Booking.com said the new price parity commitments would encourage properties to offer different pricing and booking policies like free cancellation, WIFI or breakfast through different OTAs.
The OTA said: “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 travellers and fill their rooms to keep their businesses growing.”
The firm said the announcement was helping to build a single European digital economy.
Gillian Tans, president of Booking.com, said: “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.
“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.”
Booking.com will continue its ‘Best Price Guarantee’ and match any lower price that may be found on another booking website. The site said it 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.
Federico J. González Tejera, chief executive of NH Hotel Group, said: “The Internet has revolutionised 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.
“Booking.com has been an important partner for us and we look forward to continuing this partnership under the new terms.”