HOTREC underlines negative effects of narrow price parity clauses in reply to consultation on Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER)

The European Commission opened a public consultation on the Vertical Block Exemption Regulation (VBER) at the end of 2020, as the current set of rules will expire in May 2022 and will need to be revised. Hoteliers see the revision of the VBER as a major opportunity to request an end to narrow price parity clauses imposed by OTAs such as Booking.com and Expedia on hoteliers. Narrow price parity clauses typically prevent hotels from offering a more competitive price on their own websites than via OTA platforms, which in turn entrenches hotels’ dependency on OTAs and the dominant market position of the leading OTAs in Europe, where two platforms control 85% of the online market.

HOTREC underlines that price parity clauses should be included in the list of hard-core restrictions (art. 4 VBER), in line with the prohibitions established in Austria, Belgium, France and Italy. HOTREC considers that such as amendment would bring benefits for consumers – in terms of rates and services provided – and to hoteliers – who would gain better control of their digital marketing and distribution strategies. Furthermore, OTAs have maintained a strong market position and continue generating online traffic and hotel bookings in countries where narrow price parity clauses have been prohibited.

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