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Hotels in Spain reports Booking.com 'abusive' practices - '40% more than real price'

Daily Express logo Daily Express 22/06/2021 ANDREA BLAZQUEZ
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Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the apparent good relationship between Spanish hospitality and Booking.com has been blown up. The disagreements started when the OTA decided to allow customers to cancel non-refundable reservations at no cost without checking with hoteliers.

The Madrid Hotel Business Association has now decided to take action against Booking.com asking for their practices to be investigated.

They explained the OTA charges its customers up to 40 percent in commissions, which they believe to be "abusive and contrary to competition law".

The Spanish hotels didn't seem to have complaints with the platform before the pandemic, as Booking.com accounts for 80 percent of their billing.

However, and after numerous complaints, the Hotel Association is now urging authorities to look into Booking.com's practices.

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a house on a farm: booking website and hotels in spain © Getty booking website and hotels in spain

Spain is one of the hardest hit countries with a loss of 67 million euros and a drop of 77 percent in tourism.

Hotel owners believe the fact that the platform charges up to 40 percent more than the property's real price in commissions has a direct negative impact on the tourism establishments, which are already struggling due to the pandemic.

They also claimed there were unethical practices regarding "the control the website has over the guests, as with the booking management and the payment of the service, Booking.com also obtains the control of the client, which has a negative effect on the hotel establishment, which is the one that provides this service".

Back in April, the Spanish Association of Hotel Directors had already filed a complaint about Booking's rates and commissions.

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However, the travel operator replied to that saying "it is fair that hotels offer at least the same price on Booking.com as on their own website."

It argued its rates are "fair" due to the promotion it carries out on the hotel's offer.

In this war, it seems that Google has taken part on the hotel side.

This year, the American multinational has made public its proposal to offer free booking links to hotels.

a store in a brick building: hotels in spain © Pexels hotels in spain

Google's goal is to break the duopoly of Booking and Expedia, which account for 50 percent of world tourism.

Express.co.uk approached Booking.com for comment.

Booking.com said: "We are disappointed with the claims made by the AEDH.

"Booking.com is a platform that accommodation partners can choose to leverage and advertise their properties to a large, global customer base.

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a large pool of water: hotel in spain © Pexels hotel in spain diagram, map: Green list countries © Express Green list countries

"For accommodation partners who do opt to advertise their property on Booking.com, for absolutely no upfront cost, Booking.com translates the property's content into 44 languages worldwide, invests millions to advertise on the property's behalf across multiple digital and traditional advertising channels, and handles the property's customer service needs across 44 languages, among other services.

"In exchange for these services, we believe it is fair that hotels list at least the same price on Booking.com as they do on their own website.

"The travel and tourism industry, which has been impacted so severely by the pandemic, needs a competitive, fair environment that allows hoteliers across Spain to market their properties to millions of consumers all over the world.

"The travel industry is suffering right now and we look forward to continuing to support our partners in Spain, securing and delivering them the much needed demand they need to help fuel the recovery of our industry."

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