French hotels take on online booking firms
French hotels launched an attack on three of the world's biggest online booking firms, saying they are unfairly twisting their arm on prices by banning them from offering reductions or taking bookings direct.
France's biggest hotel employer's union, UMIH, argues that Booking.com – the largest online hotel reservation website in the world – Expedia and HRS, are breaking French and European competition rules by forcing hotels to give them their lowest rates, and then barring them from offering discounted rates elsewhere, including on the hotels' own websites.
It took its complaint to France's competition authority, adding that the commission imposed by the companies is becoming extortionate.
"The online hotel booking platforms have become a crucial channel of distribution for French hotels, notably the smaller ones," said UMIH. However, it added, "the advantages offered by these platforms have gradually been cancelled out by the harmful effects of commercial practices that violate European and French competition laws."