European Commission publishes market study on EU hotel distribution practices

European Commission publishes market study on EU hotel distribution practices Credit: symbiot /

The European Commission published the results of an external market study on hotel distribution practices in the EU on Friday, August 26.

The European Commission market study on EU hotel distribution practices was carried out in 2021 and covered the period from 2017 to 2021.

It focused on a representative sample of six Member States (Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Spain, Poland and Sweden). The study aimed to:

  • Obtain updated information on hotel distribution practices, following a similar monitoring exercise carried out by the European Competition Network (ECN) in 2016;
  • Determine whether hotel distribution practices differ across Member States;
  • Identify any changes in hotel distribution practices, compared to the results of the ECN’s 2016 monitoring exercise;
  • Ascertain whether laws prohibiting the use of broad and narrow parity clauses by online travel agencies in Austria and Belgium have led to changes in hotel distribution practices in those Member States.

Parity clauses prevent hotels from offering better conditions on sales channels other than the website of the online travel agency with which the hotel has a contract.

Broad parity clauses relate to the price and other conditions offered by the hotel on all other sales channels, while restricted parity clauses relate only to the prices published by the hotel on its own website.

Main results of the market survey:

The results of the market study do not indicate any major changes in the competitive situation in the hotel distribution sector in the EU compared to 2016. Specifically:

Online travel agencies account for 44 per cent of independent hotel sales, with a slight increase compared to 2016. and Expedia remain the leading online travel agencies for hotel bookings and there are no signs of major changes in the market shares of online travel agencies or new entries of online travel agencies.

Commission rates paid by hotels to online travel agencies appear to have remained stable or decreased slightly.

The level of room prices and the differentiation of room availability applied by hotels both between different online travel agencies and between hotels’ own websites and those of online travel agencies seem to have decreased.

Some online travel agencies use commercial measures, such as improving or reducing visibility on their website, to get hotels to offer them the best prices and room conditions.

The relative importance of hotel booking channels (online / offline, direct or indirect) differs to some extent between Member States, but there are no major differences in the conditions of competition for online travel agencies.

The laws in Austria and Belgium prohibiting the use of broad and narrow parity clauses with online travel agencies in the hotel sector have not led to substantial changes in hotel distribution practices compared to the other Member States surveyed.

The study follows a new EU directive on transparent and predictable working conditions for its member states.

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