Today, the Bundeskartellamt (German Cartel Office) has banned Booking.com’s ‘best price’ clause. This follows on from parallel decisions against rate parity in France and Italy.
In the light of this decision, many are asking: will this set the trend for Europe?
In April of this year, the Bundeskartellamt first issued a statement of objection against Booking.com’s Best Price agreements. These agreements oblige hotels to offer the OTA their lowest prices.
The German OTA HRS has already been banned for what has been branded ‘anti-competitive practice’, but until now, Booking.com has been protected by Most Favoured Nation clauses, which ensure that no other party can receive better offers.
2015 has seen hotels uniting in an outcry to regain control of their own websites. From Marriott’s Summer #itpaystobookdirect to Hotrec’s Book Direct campaign this week, the calls to re-educate guests about the benefits of booking direct are constantly increasing. The Bundeskartellamt’s ban on ‘best price’ clauses is just one more step in controlling pricing and bringing transparency to the hotel industry.