Rivals of Booking.com have been invited to have their say over alleged anti-competitive contracts imposed by the online travel agent.
Following complaints in France, Italy and Sweden, the European Commission is co-ordinating a public consultation on the matter.
Booking.com imposes so-called “parity clauses” in contracts with hotels, meaning that the hotels have to offer the same or better room prices to Booking.com than all other online and offline booking channels.
According to the competition authorities’ preliminary assessment such price parity clauses risk leading to an illegal restriction of competition, and could also prevent new booking platforms from entering the market.
Booking.com has offered to remove these clauses in relation to other online travel agencies or booking services. However, the hotel would still have to guarantee the same or better room prices to Booking.com as are offered on the hotel's own online and offline booking channels.
Comments from hotels and other competitors can be be submitted to the relevant national competition authorities until 31 January.
The authorities will then consider whether Booking.com’s promises go far enough. If they do, then they will be made legally binding. The Italian authorities expect to reach their decision by 1 April.
According to the French competition authority, 70 per cent of overnight stays in Europe are booked online. ®