Booking.com has promised three European countries it will stop blocking other hotel and holiday deal sites, following an EU investigation.
Competition authorities in Sweden, Italy and France have accepted assurances offered by the slumber search site that it will no longer force hotels to give it lower prices than everyone else.
Following complaints from the three countries, the European Commission started an investigation last December into Booking.com’s practices with a so-called market test.
“We welcome and encourage fair competition in the marketplace because competition drives innovation [and] greater value for consumers," said Darren Huston, CEO of Booking.com, adding "we believe today’s decisions represent a continued, coordinated effort to promote competition in a way that supports innovation.”
Looks like everyone in the process has checked in.
The biggest problem was found to be with Booking.com’s parity clauses, which prevented hotels using Booking.com to offer better deals elsewhere.
The EU Commission had concerns that “these clauses may restrict competition between Booking.com and other online travel agents and hinder new booking platforms from entering the market.”
Hotels will still have to offer the same rates and booking conditions on Booking.com as they do through their own direct website.
The promises will not be implemented until 1 July, so the booking behemoth can still hoover up customers ahead of this summer’s high season.
Next year, however, online sun-seekers would be advised to shop around. ®