EU Watching Parity Rules for Hotels at Booking.com

     (CN) – Regulators in the EU will test whether promises made by online travel site Booking.com to dump portions of the parity clauses in its contracts with hotels will end antitrust concerns, the European Commission said Monday.
     The planned market tests by the commission stem from investigations by French, Italian and Swedish regulators into whether the parity clauses – which force hotels to offer Booking.com the same or better room prices as all other online and offline outlets – violate EU and national antitrust laws by hindering competition and keeping new travel start-ups from entering the market.
     According to the commission, Booking.com – a Dutch company owned by Internet travel giant Priceline – agreed to abandon the parity requirement with regard to other online travel sites, but not for the hotels’ own Internet sites or other offline channels. Booking.com’s commitment would cover the entire EU.
     On Monday, the commission said it would market-test Booking.com’s proposal by taking public comment through the end of January.
     Meanwhile, the national regulators have pledged to continue their investigations into Booking.com and other travel websites, including Expedia and Germany-based Hotel Reservation Service.

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