Skyscanner has claimed victory following its appeal against an agreement struck between the UK’s competition authority, Booking.com, Expedia and InterContinental Hotels Group.
The original deal meant a potential full anti-trust investigation was not undertaken, but it was criticised for not addressing the issue of opening up competition in the hotel room retail sector.
Skyscanner decided to appeal the decision that only allowed OTAs to offer deeper discounts to customers in loyalty schemes who had previously been a full price customer.
The full judgement has still to be published on the Competition Appeal Tribunal’s site, but Skyscanner has issued the following statement from Carolyn Jameson, its general counsel.
“We are pleased to hear that we have been successful in our appeal of an earlier decision by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), following their investigation into online hotel room booking. We believe this is good news for consumers as well as the wider travel industry.
“The OFT originally accepted commitments that would have reduced price transparency for consumers and introduced new restrictions on the advertising of available discounts, by keeping discounted rates behind membership scheme walls and making their availability subject to an initial full price booking.
“Meta search provides a shop window for consumers looking for travel options, reducing search time and enabling smaller OTAs to be easily visible for consumers. The commitments previously accepted made it much harder for consumers to compare available rates and find the best prices.
“Today’s decision to remit the matter to the CMA by the Competition Appeal Tribunal is significant. It provides the opportunity to ensure that competition and innovation within the online travel market is maintained, and should also ensure that consumers will continue to benefit from the ability to effectively compare pricing across the travel market.
“Skyscanner will continue to engage with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to advance the importance of the transparency of pricing for consumers, and to facilitate price comparison for consumers.”