Today's announcement by the Australian Labor Party is a breakthrough for our industry and consumers and is welcome news to the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) who have been lobbying for this outcome for years.
The two dominant online travel agency global behemoths – Expedia (which operates the Expedia, Wotif, Hotels.com and Trivago brands) and the Priceline Group (which operates the Booking.com brand) – which command almost 85 per cent of online accommodation bookings in Australia, have a pricing-parity requirement in their contracts with Australian hotels, motels, apartments and other accommodation businesses that are a restriction on trade.
The fact that any operator of accommodation is unable to sell a lower rate online is an outrage and does not pass any fair test and the public are getting a dud deal when they do not book direct or via a bona fide ATAS accredited Australian agent.
“The Accommodation Association of Australia welcomes this historic announcement from the Labor Party," said AAoA's Chief Executive Officer, Richard Munro.
“Effectively this means that our industry, should the Labor Party win office, will be able to finally offer the best rate directly to our customers without fear of being darkened or threatened by these big Multinational OTA's.
“This announcement is very welcoming for our members and the industry across Australia; the winners will be the operators of small business and the public who can finally get a better deal by going direct online once this legislation is passed.
“Up to this point - the only way to offer our customers a better rate was via telephone, walking in or via a hotel loyalty program, but customers are booking online and not getting the best deal at all!
"We know the ACCC are currently investigating arrangements between OTA’s and the accommodation industry and are considering legislation introduced into Federal Parliament under the
Competition and Consumer Amendment (Misuse of Market Power) Act 2017,
and we look forward to that investigation concluding soon.
“On behalf of the members of the AAoA, we want to thank the Honorary Dr Andrew Leigh MP, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fenner (ACT) for acting on this important issue, and hopefully the ACCC and Government will follow suit to what is a sensible and fair decision by the Australian Labor Party”.