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Google in the crossfire for EU market test: The European hospitality industry opts for stricter commitments

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Google in the crossfire for EU market test:
The European hospitality industry opts for stricter commitments

Brussels, 27 May 2013 – HOTREC, the business association representing the European hospitality industry, makes its points clear when replying to the proposed commitments of Google in relation to the EU competition case in course against the search engine. Hospitality businesses expect that organic search results on Google, making the direct link to the searched establishments, should always appear on top of results and should not be put down after advertisements and links to other Google services, thus putting them in competitive disadvantage.

Following the call by the European Commission, HOTREC sent its contribution on the competition case in process against Google, the most influential search engine in Europe and worldwide. The atomistically structured hospitality markets in Europe, which are still characterized by mainly micro and many small and medium sized enterprises, are facing practises in the field of natural/organic search and metasearches that more and more hoteliers consider being imbalanced or unfair.


In response to the proposed commitments of Google in the current competition case, HOTREC is stressing that for these small enterprises it is crucial not to be put down in the search results of Google by advertisements and links to other, partly Google run, commercial websites, diverting traffic away from the website of the searched for properties. Unfair treatment in displaying natural search results is causing considerable financial damage to the hospitality industry. HOTREC is of the strong opinion that any type of commercial search results should be clearly separated from organic results and sufficiently distinguished.


Furthermore, it should at least be forbidden that hotel names are used without the consent of the owner among advertisements and search results, giving the impression of providing a direct link to the searched for service or establishments, but in reality diverting traffic to other third party websites.


"The commitments offered so far by Google to address competition concerns by the Commission are not sufficient from our point of view. A stricter regulation is required and in addition the Commission should start an initiative to ban brand bidding and keyword advertising by OTAs on hotel names per se,” stipulates Kent Nyström, the President of HOTREC.


What is HOTREC?

HOTREC represents the hotel, restaurant and café industry at European level. This industry includes around 1,7 million businesses, of which 99.5% are small and medium sized enterprises (92% of them micro enterprises, i.e. employing fewer than 10 people). These businesses make up some 62% of industry value added. The hospitality industry provides some 9,5 million jobs in the EU alone. Together with the other tourism industries, the sector is the 3rd largest industry in Europe. HOTREC brings together 44 national associations representing the sector in 27 different European countries.

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PRESS CONTACT: Anna Maria Torres, CEO, + 32(0)2 513 63 23,