BHA Digital Strategy

The BHA's new 12 month strategy to address rate parity, Most Favoured Nation (MFNs) and regulation of the home sharing economy is underway:

Rate parity and MFNs in OTA contracts are deemed anti-competitive in some EU countries but tolerated in others. The European Commission now wants a unified pan European approach and is investigating the effects on the market place of these different approaches. Its report is due to be published in November of this year.

As a first step the BHA will provide evidence to the Competitors and Markets Authority (CMA). In March we sent a survey to our members, designed to give an initial indication of the effect on the market place of the banning of rate parity, through comparisons between those countries with rate parity and those without.

The CMA will receive a brief from the Commission shortly, giving details of the Commission’s criteria for assessment of MFNs and the specific evidence it requires. At that point the BHA will meet with the CMA to discuss the brief and how best to proceed.

Home sharing economy: key concerns remain the transformation from ‘sharing’ to business, through the large numbers of hosts with multiple properties, who operate like landlords but without regulation, as well as clarity in the application and enforcement of health and safety and food safety regulation.

We are gathering information to support our call for greater transparency and an obligation on the part of home sharing platforms to provide host data to relevant authorities (health and safety, HMRC etc.).

At present the BHA is discussing with local councils the difficulty in enforcing regulation in London, where key issues include the duration of short lettings, noise nuisance, breakdown in community and health and safety.

We are also talking to our colleagues at UMIH about a variety of regulations, introduced in cities throughout Europe, many of which are experiencing the same difficulties as London.

In Scotland, the BHA is looking at regulation applicable to smaller venues and its application to the home sharing economy.

Department of Business, Innovation and Skills: the BHA is meeting with the head of the Digital Single Economy at BIS, where the focus will be OTAs, MFNs and the home sharing economy.

The BHA also hopes to understand BIS' priorities and how the industry can feed into them. In particular, the contribution the BHA can make to BIS’ review into local authority regulation and ‘cutting red tape’. Also of interest is BIS’ consultation for the protection of small businesses, relevant to the negotiating position smaller venues have with online platforms.

In April the BHA will attend an Enterprise Forum roundtable discussion with Conservative MEPs, at which Robert Viola will provide an update on DG Connect’s current activity on the Digital Single Economy.

Thank you to all those who have replied to the recent OTA survey. If you have not, it is not too late to do so now. Your evidence is key to supporting our case that parity clauses have an anti-competitive effect. Click here to take the survey.

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