Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, said:
“The BHA has had lengthy discussions with the CMA about consumer transparency and is delighted that the CMA is now opening an investigation into the behaviour of online hotel booking sites.
Many of our members have been concerned about the vast power of online booking agencies often charging high rates of commission, use of misleading information, pressure selling, and a lack of transparency. In the process guests are paying more than they should for rooms. Contract terms also often include ‘narrow parity’ clauses, which restrict a hotel’s ability to offer a lower price on the hotel website than that offered to the online travel agent with which it has an agreement.
The online booking industry is dominated by only two companies who own 80 per cent of the European market. Expedia owns brands including hotels.com, Trivago and Travelocity while Priceline Group owns companies such as Booking,com, Kayak and Agoga. Another company HRS owns a further 12 per cent. This means that this is difficult for others to break into the market.
The BHA, in submissions to the CMA, has advocated for greater transparency from OTAs, citing increases in prices for consumers and misleading information by websites. Our objective is to not to hinder the growth of the online marketplace but to deliver a fair digital market.”