17th April 2024
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Competition watchdog in Spain launches probe into Booking.com

The competition watchdog in Spain said on Monday that it was initiating ‘formal antitrust proceedings’ against Booking.com for possible anti-competition practices affecting hotels and online travel agencies.

The investigation stems from two complaints filed by the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers and the Regional Hotel Association of Madrid, who have claimed that Booking.com has abused its dominant position in the market, the watchdog CNMC (Comisión Nacional de los Mercados y la Competencia) said.

The complaints argued the booking website had imposed unfair conditions on hotels located in Spain and implemented policies that could lead to exclusionary effects on other online travel agencies and online sales channels.

These practices ‘may amount to unfair competition acts affecting public interest due to the distortion of free competition they have produced’, the watchdog said.

Founded in 1996 and headquartered in the Netherlands, Booking.com has claimed that it has been the target of several ‘unfair competition’ investigations in recent years, especially in the European Union.

In response, Booking.com has said that it has reviewed its commercial strategy to allow hotels to offer better rates to customers who book directly by telephone or at the reception desk.

The CNMC has now a maximum period of 18 months for conducting its investigation and reaching a final decision.

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