EU rules and court decisions have not freed European hotels from dependence on global online booking systems. These are the results of a survey conducted by the European organization of hotels, restaurants, bars and cafes HOTREC.
According to their data, 90.4% of the online travel agency (OTA) market that makes up the online travel market is owned by three major players: Booking Holding, Expedia Group (Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Trivago, etc.) and HRS. Of these, the first place in the market with a share of 71.2% is occupied by the giant Booking, which “silently” left Russia. The market share of this online platform has grown from 60% in 2013 to 71.2% in 2021.
A HOTREC study found that despite a 55.2 percent increase in direct hotel bookings in Europe amid the pandemic, OTA reliance still persists and hotels depend on the world's largest online booking services. According to the responses of 3,900 hotels of different sizes, status and stardom, sent from five countries – Germany, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Greece – the source of booking is in the hands of aggregators, even after the measures taken in 2021 at the highest level. Based on the results published by HOTREC, despite a significant increase in direct bookings during the pandemic in 2021, hotel reliance on OTAs remained at the same level as in pre-Covid 2019.
Commenting on the observation, Marie Audrin, Managing Director of HOTREC, said: “The online market is concentrated in the hands of one company. In the near future, we will see the consequences of the adopted regulations and rules regarding online platforms, such as the EU law on Digital Markets and Services. Then we will see a reflection of the agreements, court decisions and introduced rules that we will pass in 2024 and 2026.”
The study said that it is not yet clear how the new rules will affect the market and the dependence of hotels on online giants . In Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and other countries, Booking has been and is being sued. As a result, the service was repeatedly found guilty of violating antitrust laws and imposing price parity on hotels – the site forbade hoteliers from setting room prices lower than those published on the platform’s website. In connection with the violation, the service was obliged to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in fines.
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