Hotels discount site deals investigated

by Emily DUNBAR on July 31, 2012

Expedia and Booking.com, as well as InterContinental Hotels Group, continue to be investigated OFT - the Office of Fair Trading - over discount deals that might have been infringing competition law.

The OFT has already suggested that two of Britain’s largest online travel agents have entered into individual, possibly anti-competitive deals with the group operating Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels. Alleged infringements could possibly limit price competition amongst travel agents while making it difficult for emerging companies on the internet to gain fair market shares through offering discounts to holidaymakers.

All parties involved were given the opportunity to make a response to the preliminary findings. Worryingly, the OFT has warned that alleged practices may be widespread within the world of online travel agents.

The OFT’s investigation started in September 2010 after calls were made in the wake of a complaint by one small online travel agent being prevented by hotel chains from providing discounted accommodation. Last year, a leading UK broadsheet newspaper ran a report on hotels that had been accused of ordering travel agents to not offer discounted rooms, as alleged by leaked documents.

The chief executive of the OFT, Clive Maxwell, commented that people should be able to benefit from better deals on accommodation by shopping around the internet. In the provisional view of the OFT, Expedia, Booking.com and the InterContinental Hotels Group has infringed competition law.

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