The Swedish Patent and Market Court issued a forbiddance for Booking.com to impose parity clauses in its contracts with hotels from October 20, 2018, to present after the ban on price parity clauses was passed in Belgium this July. These clauses cannot be imposed in any form or under any conditions on hoteliers. Ranking algorithms cannot be taken into account the refusal of hoteliers who are denying these clauses, as well.
Incentives by Booking.com e.g. in the form of lower commissions to apply such clauses is forbidden as well. Sweden is already the 6th country in the EU where parity clauses of at least of the European market leader Booking.com are banned.
Parity clauses applied by online booking platforms forbid businesses to offer better conditions on their own websites than provided to the online intermediary. As 2 online booking platforms dominate over 82% of the increasing online intermediated hotel booking market in Europe, the current Swedish court decision partly releases platforms’ pressure from the market, allowing for fairer competition to the benefit of consumers’ and all businesses.
“The uncompetitive nature of parity clauses is more and more recognized by antitrust authorities, courts, and policymakers all across Europe. The control over the own product and the conditions must remain with the businesses” said Markus Luthe, Chair of HOTREC’s Distribution Task Force.
“As the majority of the European tourism market, in terms of room nights, is already free from parity clauses, the rest of the European hospitality industry hopes to soon benefit from these same favourable market conditions as well, following the examples of Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and now Sweden”, concluded Christian de Barrin, CEO of HOTREC.
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