A spate of rulings in Germany, Italy and France early last year and a great deal of conversation in other countries like England and Switzerland bubbled in our newsfeeds for much of last year, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen certain action. Now however, Turkey is becoming the next country standing up in defence of hotels.
The Turkish Competition Authority is imposing a fine of TL 2,543,992 million ($650,000) on online accommodation and booking website Booking.com B.V. over unfair contractual obligation such as price and quota parity, Most Favoured Nation clauses and “best price” promises. These, the report suggests, run counter to both clauses 4 and 6 of Article 4054: that is, anti-competitive practices and abuse of the dominant position.
The news broke last week after the unanimous decision was posted on the competition board’s official website, citing clauses of the Regulation on Fines to Impose in Cases of Agreements, Concerted Practices and Decisions Limiting Competition, and Abuse of Dominant Position. It is speculated that it will also lead to closer examination of contractual obligation.
We got chatting to our Turkish clients for feedback. To prevent any negativity in their relationship with the OTA giant, they remain anonymous here, but they were quick to comment:
"Booking.com dominates turkish OTA market and every single hotel is unhappy to be dependant on this company.
"We are glad that Turkish competition authority punished booking.com with a fine of 2,54 million TRL (appr. 635.000 eu) deciding that it violated free competition exercising pressure on hotels to get lowest rates or hold them back in his hotel listings.
"Hotel owners and investors are eager to know if this helps to slow down booking.com in his ambitions."
The Board's short-form decision is available in full here (only in Turkish) and will be published shortly in long-form with further details of the Board’s reasoning.
Is the ruling fair? Is a fine the most elegant solution? Is another country handling the debate better? We’d love to hear more about how hoteliers are reacting.