UKHospitality – the culmination of The ALMR and British Hospitality Association merger – is hosting a series of forums across the UK, in Edinburgh, Cardiff, London, the South East and locations across the UK, with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the UK body responsible for enforcing competition and consumer law. It will be presenting on two aspects of hotel online bookings: its ongoing consumer law investigation into online hotel booking platforms and its previous competition law work.
Industry members have expressed concern at the power of the largest Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and the effect of some non-negotiable OTA contract terms; the meaning and effect of which is not always clear. At the forums CMA experts will address these issues in presentations which explain how the terms work, both contractually and in practice. The CMA speakers will also discuss the CMA’s current consumer investigation into five main practices:
- Listing/ranking according to commission paid, not relevance to consumer
- Misleading reference pricing/discounting
- Drip pricing
- Scarcity claims
- Best Price Guarantees
‘Rate-parity or ‘most favoured nation’ clauses will be discussed in considerable depth as they are of particular interest to hospitality providers, who see the same room prices across platforms and a lack of transparency for consumers online. CMA experts in competition and consumer law will also discuss what is possible in terms of pricing flexibility.
These forums provide a rare opportunity for those in the hospitality industry, especially SMEs, to talk directly to the competition and consumer law experts, ask questions and explain their concerns.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive at UKHospitality, said:
“We are leading the campaign for a fair market and a more competitive landscape. We are delighted to be working with the Competition and Markets Authority and to provide feedback from our members to inform discussion. We hope to find a balance between digital agencies operating globally and the many hospitality providers, often SMEs in our industry, who strive to provide the best possible hospitality for their guests.”
Cecilia Parker-Aranha, Project Director at the CMA, said:
“We welcome this opportunity to work with UKHospitality and engage with hoteliers across the UK to explain our recent work in online hotel booking, both from a competition and consumer law perspective.”