Indian hoteliers have begun to follow in the footsteps of North American and Western European hotel groups to raise their displeasure over online travel agencies.
But the complaints were drowned out by a recent report of strong financial results from India’s leading online travel agency group, MakeMyTrip, which continued to take online market share at the expense of hotel direct bookings.
In December, hoteliers drew national media attention and viral social media posts on the WhatsApp platform to their complaints against MakeMyTrip Group.
About 270 hotels in Ahmedabad, a city in northwestern Gujarat state, said they would “boycott” MakeMyTrip and its sister brand GoIbibo — two portals that together form the country’s largest online travel group.
“There was a time when online booking portals used to charge only 15 to 18 percent as commission,” said Abhijeet Deshmukh, a spokesperson for the Hotels and Restaurants Association. Hoteliers alleged that in the past two years since the merger the two portals now effectively charge commissions of 40 to 45 percent.
After one week of a boycott, MakeMyTrip Group promised to cap commissions at 22 percent for hotels in the city. The owners and managers called the protest off.
But the drama didn’t end. Last week, hotels in Sikkim, a state in northeast India, banded together to launch a similar boycott, making similar claims of excessive commissions. They also said they were frustrated that MakeMyTrip and GoIbibo offer “indiscriminate” discounts on hotel rates that make it difficult for them to manage their businesses. The Hotel and Restaurants Association of Western India threatened to call for a nationwide protest.
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