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The dominance and concentration of online platforms is

constantly increasing. HOTREC carried out in July 2016 for the

second time a study on distribution of hotel rooms with the Swiss

University of Valais. This study shows that controls

almost 2/3 of the hotel bookings. Together with second placed

Expedia they have a market share of over 80%. Having these 2

giants on the one hand and the 200.000 hotels on the other, there

is no question about the division of the roles in the market.

HOTREC raised European institutions’ awareness

about unfair competition and unfair commercial


HOTREC actively voiced out many unfair practices related to

booking platforms. As a result, the European institutions are more

and more acknowledging the unfair practices enterprises have to

face when dealing with platforms, besides the opportunities they

are offering. This is the reason why the European Commission

decided with its Communication on platforms in May 2016

to launch investigations on unfair B2B practices. Besides the

Communication, further interpretation of the Unfair Commercial

Practices Directive was published, clearly stating inter alia, that

platforms have to clearlymark sponsored search results, e.g. in the

form of paid for rankings. In fact, several similar unfair practices

pointed out by HOTREC are not only misleading consumers, but

are also damaging businesses, by the lack of transparency of

platforms towards their suppliers (i.e hoteliers).

Commission acting on misleading travel booking


In April 2017, the European Commission also stepped-up

against some misleading practices identified in the course of an

investigation of 352 travel platforms. This reflects the demands

HOTREC voiced out over the past years about platforms and

online Travel Agents, but further enforcement efforts are needed

to establish a fair market both for consumers and businesses.

Besides the institutions’ stronger recognition of the problems

with platforms in Europe, hoteliers in Austria can, similarly to

their colleagues in Germany and France, finally enjoy their basic

entrepreneurial freedom to be in control of their offer. The Austrian

Parliament adopted in November 2016 a modification of the law

on unfair commercial practices, banning parity clauses from

contracts between hotels and Online Travel Agents, thus allowing

hoteliers to set freely the conditions for selling their own services

on their various distribution channels, also constituting a benefit

for customer.

HOTREC and its Members will keep on striving for fairer and better

conditions for hospitality enterprises in online distribution.

Online distribution – fair

competition and transparency

must prevail

The European institutions are

more and more responsive to

the unfair commercial practices

faced by hospitality enterprises

and shall implement measures

within the mid-term review

of the Digital Single Market