Leading accom bodies have challenged the Coalition to match Labor’s pledge to end rate parity.
In an announcement described by Accommodation Association of Australia chief Richard Munro as “historic”, opposition competition minister Andrew Leigh this week promised a Labor government would end the rate parity clauses contractually imposed on accom businesses by online travel agencies.
Under current laws, the clauses prohibit operators from advertising prices on their own websites which are lower than those on Expedia or Booking.com-related sites. Those that don’t comply risk “darkening” by the two OTAs – being dropped to the bottom of listings pages making them virtually invisible online.The Australian Hotels Association (AHA), the Coalition’s leading financial contributor, has welcomed Labor’s parity announcement and urged the federal government to match the promise.
Through its Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) arm, the association has lobbied hard for a change to rate parity laws.
The AHA’s WA chief executive, Bradley Woods, says the Coalition must match the pledge and “bring a bipartisan approach to this important issue”.
“For several years now we have advocated that hotels and accommodation providers should be able to compete freely with offshore online travel agents,” he said.
“The announcement by Labor today is a significant step in the right direction and is a direct result of our advocacy on behalf of the thousands of AHA and TAA members across Australia.
“Accommodation providers should have the power to control their rate and their inventory so we strongly encourage the Coalition Government to match today’s pledge by Federal Labor.”
Properties are currently only allowed to offer lower rates than those advertised by the OTAs by phone, in person or through loyalty programs.
The policy is universally despised by Australian accommodation providers, with industry surveys showing price parity clauses are the number one complaint from hotel operators.
It has been banned in several European countries, including Germany, Italy, France, Sweden, Belgium and Austria.
Booking.com and Expedia charge 15 to 25 percent commission per booking, and together account for 84 percent of online bookings for Australian properties.