Booking.com alters contested rules for hotels across Europe
Online hotel reservation site Booking.com announced Thursday it is revising its contested pricing rules that prohibit European hotels it lists from adjusting their rates on other sites.
The revision will end restrictions preventing hotels listed on Booking.com from offering lower prices elsewhere if they so choose, and from offering a greater volume of rooms available on other online and offline reservation services.
The move comes after competition regulators in several European countries in April sided with hotel owners denouncing the restrictions as unfair.
"Today Booking.com... announced it will amend its parity terms with all accommodations partners in Europe by 1 July 2015 to be consistent with the binding commitments given to the French, Italian and Swedish" regulators, the company said in a statement.
It also said the changes are "in line with its commitment to a new Europe-wide standard to keep competition healthy, driving value for consumers and hoteliers,"
However, Booking.com will continue prohibiting hotels from offering lower room prices on their own web sites than the rates they quote to reservation portals.
The revision aims to resolve the conflict over competition concerns, but not leave Booking.com at risk of being undercut by hotels offering loss-leading rates.
"Under these new conditions, Booking.com can continue to provide a valuable service to consumers that delivers transparency, access to information, choice, value and a seamless experience, and a valuable service to hotels by providing highly cost-effective marketing," the statement said.
Despite the changes, the revision does not take into account pending legislation in France whose measures include the suppression of all price parity restrictions -- including those barring hotels from cutting rates on their own site as low as they like.
"If France, which was an instigator of the (revisions) puts into place a legal framework of this type, it will isolate itself, and we'll move farther away from a European arrangement," Carlo Olejniczak, Booking.com director for France, Spain and Portugal told AFP.
© 2015 AFP