The EU Competition Commission is on a roll this month, announcing today the smackdown of another large company for anti-competitive behavior after fresh indictments of Gazprom and Google.
The latest company in its cross-hairs is Booking.com, the euro-centric online hotel reservation site. The latest actions look considerably more tame than its likely decade long tussle with Google as Booking.com has promised three European countries it will stop blocking other hotel and holiday deal sites, following the EU investigation.
Competition regulators in Sweden, Italy and France have accepted assurances offered by the site that it will no longer force hotels to give it lower prices than everyone else. This had previously been a condition of working with booking.com
Following complaints from the three countries, the European Commission started an investigation last December into Booking.com’s business practices.
“We welcome and encourage fair competition in the marketplace because competition drives innovation [and] greater value for consumers," said Darren Huston, CEO of Booking.com, adding "we believe today’s decisions represent a continued, coordinated effort to promote competition in a way that supports innovation.”
Looks like everyone in the process has checked in, unlike the boys from Mountain View who will be engaged in a Microsoft-like struggle for years or decades to come.
The biggest problem found by the EC was with Booking.com’s parity clauses, which prevented hotels using Booking.com to offer better deals elsewhere.
The EU Commission was concerned that “these clauses may restrict competition between Booking.com and other online travel agents and hinder new booking platforms from entering the market.”
Hotels will still have to offer the same rates and booking conditions on Booking.com as they do through their own direct website though
The promises will not be implemented until 1 July, so the booking behemoth can still gather up customers ahead of this summer’s high season.