Booking.com to amend parity terms – closure or a can of worms?
Booking.com says it will amend its rate parity clauses across Europe by July 1 in line with commitments given to competition authorities in France, Italy and Sweden in April.
The Priceline-owned accommodation giant said in the Spring that it would support changes from the regulators which means, broadly speaking, that Booking can’t ask hotels for the same or lower prices than they offer to other third party distribution channels.
There’s some analysis on the various rulings and potential impact here.
A statement from Booking says it will “abandon its price, availability and booking conditions parity provisions with respect to other online travel agencies”.
It goes on to say that the move will mean “increased transparency and competition among online travel agencies…by encouraging properties to offer different pricing and booking policies” through different OTAs.
Cue even more frenzied shopping around by consumers who at last count were visiting about 20 sites before making a booking?
And, there’s a BUT, as highlighted in April – the “narrow Most Favoured Nation” clause remains meaning it can continue to offer the same or lower rates as on a hotel’s own website.
Booking says this means it can continue to “provide a valuable service to consumers that delivers transparency….and a valuable service to hotels by providing highly cost-effective marketing…”.
We know from quarterly earnings calls that Booking invests a heap of money in marketing and it’s also fair to say it offers a window to the world for hotels in terms of promotion and distribution in places they would not normally be seen.
The statement goes on to talk about the same standard terms for all European partners and it all “helping to build a single European digital economy”.