Restrictive pricing policies by hoteliers and bully boy tactics by OTAs will be debated at next week’s World Travel Market.
The eTourism Lab at the School of Tourism Bournemouth University will host the discussion on the opening day of the annual trade show.
The debate, entitled eTourism Dynamics – Technology and hotel distribution online: outstanding competitive practices and exciting trends for the future, is free and registrations are open now.
It will take place from 12pm on Monday November 3 at the WTM Global Stage AS850.
The panel includes Skoosh founder Dorian Harris, who recently supported Skyscanner’s successful bid to overturn the outcome of an anti-competition probe in the UK into pricing agreements between booking.com, Expedia and InterContinental Hotels Group.
Professor Dimitrios Buhalis, of Bournemouth University, and Richard Lewis, chief executive of Interchange & Consort Hotels, Best Western Hotels will moderate.
The discussion will look at how OTAs have been able to exploit technology to dominate and what this means for their relationship with the hoteliers.
It will ask why the OTAs are content with the status quo and are often critical of the findings of official investigations into their practices.
Buhalis said: “Have the OTAs acted as bullies to hotels often insisting upon ‘unfair’ clauses in contracts. Or have they provided an outstanding service to travellers?
“Will the hotel industry and the OTAs find a way to work in true partnership in the future for the benefit of the hotel guest? Will the new battleground be fought over mobile, big data, personalisation and loyalty?”
Other topics due to be debated include:
• Price setting
• Preferential distribution rates
• Exclusivity contracts and restrictive clauses
• Restrictions on ability to discount
• Mirror branding on online search engines
Other panellists include: Cho Wong, managing director, Supranational Hotels, Tom Valentine, managing director, Secret Escapes, Carl Oldsberg, vice president, revenue & distribution, Choice Hotels, Jose Cobian, HotelTonight country manager for Spain and Portugal and Gaucho Rasmussen, enforcement director at Competition and Markets Authority.