The UK Competition and Markets Authority’s decision to investigate OTAs could potentially be a real boost for independent hotels, if the CMA decides to get tough on the practices it says it is concerned about.
Probably the most relevant issue is that of whether OTA rankings – which are presented as being based on search preferences – are actually linked to the amount of commission that an OTA receives from a hotel operator. If this proves to be the case, then it means the smaller operators are at the lower end of a distinctly unlevel playing field. The ‘narrow parity’ clauses which restrict a hotel’s ability to offer a lower price on its own website than that offered to the OTA is also a bone of contention.
There is also the possibility that the OTAs’ reputation will be damaged to the extent that some travellers, keen to avoid perceived hidden charges and misleading rankings, will make the effort to book their accommodation directly with the hotel – music to the ears of owners and revenue managers across the land! We will watch developments with interest.