Top Online Travel sites and a hotel chain are involve in fixing hotel room prices at unsuspecting online customers.
A investigation that took almost two years was conducted by Britain’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has determine that Inter Continental Hotels Group(IHG), the owner of the Holiday Inn chain conspired with Booking.com and Expedia to stop the increase in discounts being given to online customers trying to book for a hotel in their site. OFT thinks that this problem is also happening to other major online booking travel sites and further investigation will be conducted.
British-based IHG and US-owned Booking.com protest this accusations and they will show proof that they are not doing anything illegal. Thus problem arise when a small online travel agent was stopped in providing promos for hotel rooms.
OFT said ”
Booking.com and Expedia had entered into separate agreements with IHG which appeared to breach the 1998 Competition Act. Expedia allegedly violated rules from 2007 to 2010, the OFT said, adding that the arrangement between Booking.com and IHG was continuing”.
OFT chief executive Clive Maxwell said: “We want people to benefit fully from being able to shop around online and get a better deal from discounters.”
Mark Datta, managing director of a mobile-only hotel booking service, Blink Booking, was not surprised by the findings. He said: “We have long believed that the big online travel agents have been guilty of denying consumers the best prices — and that hotels’ hands are tied by price parity agreements.
“The online travel market may appear to offer plenty of choice and competition, but the reality is that there are lots of different shop windows selling the same rooms at the same prices — with those prices agreed through deals between the big groups and the big online travel agents.”
IHG and Booking.com said they would contest the OFT’s “provisional findings”. IHG said its arrangements with online booking agents were “compliant with competition laws”.
Expedia said: “Expedia remains committed to ensuring it provides consumers with the widest possible choice of travel options at competitive prices.”