Digital Booking Sites

UK Edges Closer To New Discounting Rules For Booking Sites and Hotels


Dec 20, 2013 9:40 am

Skift Take

The rules being discussed would apply to Europeans booking rooms in the UK, and the framework would be fairly narrow in scope. They do not address broader rate parity issues, but would indeed provide for more competition and would be good for limited numbers of travelers.

— Dennis Schaal

Discover the Top Travel Brands on Social Media

 / InterContinental Hotels

The UK's Office of Fair Trading is revising discounting rules for online travel agencies and hotels. Pictured is the renovated and renamed InterContinental London Park Lane. / InterContinental Hotels

The UK’s Office of Fair Trading is taking steps to ensure that online travel agencies such as and Expedia, and hotels such as InterContinental have more freedom to offer discounted room rates, but only to closed groups of their users.

The OFT today opened a commentary period, which would run through January 17, 2014, on the latest proposed amendments to draft commitments by the parties that the OFT revealed over the summer.

The background to the issue is that the UK regulator was concerned that InterContinental’s agreements with Expedia and precluded the OTAs from offering travelers discounts off published rates that InterContinental offers its own customers.

The latest proposed amendments would allow both OTAs and hotels to offer discounts to closed groups of their respective customers as long as they don’t advertise or otherwise publicize these discounts to the general public.

This sort of thing is similar to the manner in which airlines offer discounted airfares to subsets of their loyalty program members without offering them openly to the general public.

The OFT’s deliberations and the proposed amendments do not address rate parity and most-favored nation provisions in hotel-OTA agreements that ensure that OTAs and hotels offer the same published rates and that the hotels don’t give special preferred rates, availability and cancelation provisions to one booking site over another.

Rate parity and most-favored nation provisions have set off competition debates, lawsuits and regulatory inquiries in Europe and the U.S., but are not the focus of the current OFT deliberations.

The amended rules in the UK under discussion would apply to European Economic Area residents booking UK hotels, and would not apply to hotels in other European countries or to other regions of the world.

Download (PDF, 124KB)

Tags: , , ,

Follow @denschaal

Next Up

More on Skift

5 Aviation Trends We’re Tracking at Skift This Week
6 Hospitality Trends We’re Tracking at Skift This Week
Behind the Economics of Travel Metasearch
Top 3 Destination ‘Must Haves’ for Chinese Travelers

We're the Moneyball of the Travel Industry

We know what's coming next in travel. Subscribe to the newsletter and get all the goodness in your inbox daily.