Booking.com, Expedia and InterContinental Hotels Group have all given commitments to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to allow online travel agents (OTA) and hotels the ability to discount rates for hotel rooms.
The agreement follows a consultation and investigation by the OFT around the separate agreements made by Booking.com and Expedia with InterContinental Hotels Group which it felt restricted discount rates being offered by online travel agents.
As a result, the three companies will allow hotels and OTA to offer discounts off room-only rates to customers that sign up to a membership scheme and make one undiscounted booking using an OTA or hotel, and will be eligible for future discounts funded through commission margins.
New online agents will now be expected to enter the market or grow through attractive discounting offers.
Ann Pope, senior director in the OFT's Services, Infrastructure and Public Markets Group, said: “The travel industry, fuelled by the internet, has seen significant changes in recent years, and we want to ensure those changes continue to work in consumers' interests. That is why we are pleased to have secured this outcome which, by allowing OTAs and hotels to offer discounts, should increase competition and mean travellers across Europe can benefit from reductions on hotel accommodation throughout the UK. By shopping around, people can compare the different discounts offered by hotels and OTAs, and ensure they get the best deal.”
Following this agreement, the OFT has closed its investigation.