End of French hotels’ price parity prompts fears of peak season chaos

End of French hotels’ price parity prompts fears of peak season chaos

Pictured: Christoph Klenner

Hotels in France are to be granted “unprecedented control” to dictate prices across all online channels from next month’s holiday peak period, it is being claimed.

Price parity, which allows online travel agents to have access to prices as low as those available on hotels’ own channels, is due to end when the French government commences implementing its proposed ‘Macron’ Bill in August.

The French Hotels Association claims the Bill will promote discounting of hotel rooms by ending price parity.

Instead the legislation gives hotels a “mandate” contract where they will control all pricing and availability for all online reservation platforms and OTA’s sales channels.

The European Technology and Travel Services Association describes this as “a licence for the hotels to increase prices,” which is being fast-tracked through the French legislature.

Christoph Klenner, secretary general of ETTSA, said: “There will be no price competition if hotels determine all prices.

“Hotels will unfairly favour their own channels for the lowest pricing and availability, which will substantially reduce competition and consumer choice.

“It will lead to higher prices as there are no incentives for hotels to discount if they can eliminate all competition across distribution channels.

“Control over pricing and the ability to restrict supply will undoubtedly lead to anti-competitive behaviour.”

The Bill means that every hotel contract with an online reservation platform, including those without price parity provisions, will effectively be cancelled in the middle of summer immediately after entry into force, ETTSA warned.

“This Bill is being rushed through way too quickly. The French Senate has not given adequate attention to its negative consequences,” added Klenner.

“This Bill promises to cause a nightmare scenario for online travel agents and hotels who will face huge legal uncertainty because overnight all agreements will have to be re-negotiated.

“This is an appalling situation for industry and consumers to be faced with on the eve of huge summer bookings. Consumers may find that their ability to book French hotels online has suddenly vanished, seemingly without explanation.

“This is an unsustainable situation where the consumer will lose out in the end.”

Ebookers said: “We have serious concerns with the ‘Macron’ Bill and believe that this will hurt consumers.

“This legislation will prevent intermediaries from discounting to consumers, which will reduce competition and consumer choice. This is a worse outcome for travellers.

“If the bill takes effect on August 1, in the heart of tourist season, it will generate unnecessary disruption for both consumers and the travel industry as online travel agents and online reservation platforms will effectively have their contracts with French hotels cancelled overnight.

“This will have a major impact on our ability to provide the widest range of hotel options available at the best value to ensure a more rewarding travel experience.”

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