OFT investigates hotel and online booking firms
A number of hotel and booking firms including Expedia, Booking.com and Holiday Inn owner, InterContinental Hotels Group are being investigated by the Office of Fair Trading for infringing competition law. It is claimed that the companies are signing up to deals to limit the discounts which can be offered to customers on hotel rooms.
Following a complaint from a small online travel agent the OFT began an investigation into some major hotel and booking firms back in September 2010.
As a result of the investigation a statement of objections was presented to Expedia, Booking.com and IHG alleging that the firms had entered into agreement that breached competition rules between October 2007 and September 2010.
Clive Maxwell, OFT chief executive, said: “We want people to benefit fully from being able to shop around online and get a better deal from discounters that are prepared to share their commission with customers.
“The OFT’s provisional view is that Booking.com, Expedia and IHG have infringed competition law. However, these are the OFT’s provisional findings only. All parties will now have a full opportunity to respond to our statement of objections before we decide whether competition law has in fact been infringed.”
Expedia issued a statement which said: “The statement of objections does not establish that any laws have in fact been broken. Expedia will now review the statement and provide its response to the OFT in due course. For obvious reasons, Expedia is unable to comment further at this stage.”