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A House of Lords report recommending greater accountability and transparency of online travel agents has been welcomed by the British Hospitality Association.
The BHA is calling for the Competition and Markets Authority to adopt the report’s recommendations.
The House of Lords select committee ‘Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market’ report comes in response to European Commission consultation on how the largest online platforms use their market power and whether current regulation and competition law is effective in the digital economy.
The report recommends critical scrutiny by competition authorities of parity clauses and recommends that the Competition and Markets Authority urgently order a market investigation into the online travel sector.
It calls for a speedier process for resolving competition law questions, proposing interim measures be used to stop anti-competitive practices, time limits be applied to negotiations and the development of sector based codes of practice.
The European Commission should also amend the Unfair Consumer Practices Directive so that platforms are required to make available the criteria on which they provide ratings and search results and their policies for handling negative reviews, as well as clearly distinguishing between user reviews and paid promotions.
Chief executive, Ufi Ibrahim, said: “These OTAs wield vast power and hold our industry hostage by commanding punitive rates of commission.
“We are pleased that this influential committee is proposing Europe-wide steps to enable our industry to challenge anti-competitive online practices when they arise.
“The BHA calls upon on the government and policy makers in the European Commission to support our lobbing in this area and get engaged – this is a significant step forward for our industry and we want to see the momentum continue.”
The BHA has been lobbying for an outright ban on rate parity clauses – which it claims prevents hotels from offering lower rates than those on the online booking sites where they are listed.
It also wants to see more effective and faster methods for resolving competition and consumer protection issues and codes of practice for online platforms together with transparency for consumers in rankings, ratings and reviews.