Expedia seeks to end rate parity investigations with new pan-European hotel deals

Expedia seeks to end rate parity investigations with new pan-European hotel deals

Expedia has brought itself in line with rate, conditions and availability parity clause commitments offered by rival Booking.com as part of investigations in Europe.

It is hoped that the move will bring to an end further investigations into competition issues in Europe, although the French have vowed to put an end to rate parity.

The new agreements between Expedia and hoteliers in Europe covering the next five years will come into force on August 1 and the OTA said it will be contacting all hotel partners to explain how the announcement will be implemented.

Expedia insisted its current deals are legal, but says the new pan-European policy is in accordance with the single digital market in Europe being pursued by the European Commission.

In a statement Expedia said: “A number of European competition authorities are currently investigating rate, conditions and availability parity clauses in certain online travel agency agreements with hotels.

“Expedia has worked closely and constructively with these authorities and the European Commission and today announced that it is waiving its rate, conditions and availability parity clauses with its hotel partners for a period of five years in line with Clauses 1.1, 1.2 and 2.1 of the formal commitments offered by Booking.com and accepted by the national competition authorities in France, Italy and Sweden in April 2015.

“The changes announced today apply to all hotel properties in Europe and affect consumers booking via Expedia’s sites worldwide.

“Expedia’s waivers will become effective as at 1 August 2015 and Expedia will contact its hotel partners in Europe individually to communicate this announcement and how it intends to implement the changes announced today.

“While Expedia maintains that its current rate, conditions and availability parity clauses are lawful and in compliance with competition law, Expedia considers that today’s announcement is a positive step towards facilitating the closure of the open investigations into such clauses on a harmonised pan-European basis.

“Today’s announcement ensures that Expedia can continue to invest in technological innovation and maintaining a first class consumer experience on its sites, by offering consumers transparency, value and choice together with a great booking experience.

“With its announcement Expedia offers hotels and consumers an effective pan-European solution. The pan-European scope of Expedia’s announcement is also an important contribution to the European Commission’s Digital Single Market objective.

“To the extent that individual countries’ regulatory or legislative developments may in the future cut across Expedia’s change of commercial policy announced today, Expedia naturally reserves the right to adjust its revised approach as appropriate.

“Expedia remains committed to offering consumers the widest possible choice of travel options at compelling prices. Expedia hopes that today’s announcement will allow it and its hotel partners to focus again fully on jointly delivering choice and value to travellers looking for compelling European accommodation deals.”

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