Today's ruling from the Bundeskartellamt (Germany's Federal Antitrust Authorities) requires Booking.com to remove such clauses from its contracts by the end of January 2016. Hoteliers will be allowed to offer lower rates on their own websites, as they may already do through offline channels.
According to the President of the Bundeskartellamt Andreas Mundt: "These so-called Bestpreisklauseln restrict both competition between the existing booking sites and competition between the hotels themselves. First of all, they infringe the hotels' freedom to set price on their own online sales channels. There is little incentive for a hotel to reduce its prices on an online reservation system if at the same time it has to display higher prices for its own online sales. Secondly, it still makes the market entry of new platform providers considerably difficult. The Bestpreisklauseln barely provide an incentive for hotels to offer their rooms for a lower price on a new platform, if they cannot implement these price reductions on their own websites as well. There is no apparent benefit for the consumer."
A December 23, 2015 ruling from the Federal Competition Authorities ordered the platform Booking.com to halt its strategy and remove all rate parity clauses from its contracts before January 31, 2016. The company still has the right to appeal to the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, just like its competitor HRS unsuccessfully did a year ago after a similar decision from the Bundeskartellamt.
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