In this day and age, people book their holidays online for one reason: to save money. The truth is that booking online is usually the easiest way to save money when planning a holiday. However, the discounts that people receive should actually be more, according to the Office of Fair Trading.
Reports show that consumers might soon receive deeper discounts when booking just hotels from these online booking sites. Typically, people see the biggest discounts when they bundle flights, car rentals and hotels together. Now it seems that certain sites are being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading because of that.
Sites like Expedia and Booking.com are in the middle of being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading. According to this competition watchdog, these two sites have both entered into separate contracts with InterContinental Hotels Group. Although nothing has been proven at this point, the Office of Fair Trading says that it believes these two online travel booking sites entered into a contract with this hotel provider that restricts the online travel agents’ ability to discount the rates that they give when people book hotel accommodations only.
Why would these travel sites want to enter into a contract with the InterContinental Hotels Group? This would be due to the fact that this group is actually the largest provider of hotel rooms in the world. It has more than 678,000 rooms available in more than 4,643 hotels across the world. This is the same group that currently owns the Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotel brands. When viewed like this, it is pretty easy to see why travel sites want to do business with this group.
The Office of Fair Trading believes that this current agreement could limit price competition between all online travel agents. Due to this, it breaks the rules that have been set in place by the Office of Fair Trading.
Now, however, Expedia and Booking.com have come forward to address these concerns by the Office of Fair Trading. The groups say that they have come up with a new proposal that would allow their online travel agents to offer discounts for people who are booking just hotel rooms. This is something that neither online booking site has offered before.
The senior director at the Office of Fair Trading, Ann Pope, said that her organization is consulting on whether these new proposals by Expedia and Booking.com offer any kind of meaningful competition. The Office of Fair Trading will be looking into if these new discounts actually offer any kind of value for room-only hotel accommodation bookings. This is an area that usually sees no love in terms of discounts.
The Office of Fair Trading could not go into too much detail, but it did say that it has a limited number of small companies that will be making bookings in the future. These companies should be able to provide the Office of Fair Trading with a swift answer to the question. Obliviously, the names of these companies or people who will be making bookings cannot be made known.