Travel technology conference firm EyeforTravel has denied claims that it organised ‘private’ meetings between hotel chains and online agents where ‘price parity’ was discussed.
The allegation is reportedly made in a class action lawsuit in the US, according to the Sunday Times.
The newspaper was reporting on the ongoing Office of Fair Trading probe into alleged collusion between Expedia and Booking.com and InterContinental Hotel Group over pricing.
This was sparked by Skoosh.com owner Dorian Harris who claims he was threatened by hotel firms and wholesalers when he tried to re-sell rooms at a discount.
Steve Berman, the managing partner of Hagens Berman, the US law firm acting in the class action, reportedly told the newspaper: “The large online travel sites, working with hotel chains, have created the illusion that savvy consumers can spend time researching hotel rates online to find good deals.
“The reality is that these price parity agreements mean consumers see nothing but cosmetic differences and the same prices on every site.”
Papers lodged at a Texas court allege EyeforTravel organised seminars where travel websites and hotel chains discussed price fixing.
EyeforTravel denied any wrongdoing and told the newspaper: “EyeforTravel has organised many conferences on the topics of travel marketing and revenue management
“Whilst a range of strategies are debated at the conferences, these debates are done in a public forum. The participants do not debate price-fixing or make agreements about pricing.”
The OFT is seeking a commitment from hotel groups and online booking websites that they will curb restrictions on discounts and has not yet determined whether Expedia, Booking.com of IHC have acted unlawfully
Expedia said: “Last month the OFT launched a public consultation on a set of commitments designed to close its hotel online booking investigation without any findings of infringement or penalties.
“Expedia welcomes these commitments, which will enable the OFT to close its investigation without taking any action and to permit Expedia to focus on providing the best online travel experience.”
Booking.com declined to comment and IHC said it had worked closely with the OFT to agree commitments on how to operate in future.