A rising wave of hoteliers has been complaining that Hotelbeds — and similar companies that move hotel inventory at wholesale rates to offline sources — haven’t been playing fair. They allege so-called bedbanks have routed some of the discounted inventory through online travel agencies that disguise the origin of the discounts and offer them to the public without permission.
The issue drew a spotlight late last week when online travel agency Amoma collapsed. Hoteliers had long suspected that Amoma was often repurposing their inventory meant for niche channels, such as ethnic offline travel agents, tour operators, and airline websites, and selling it to consumers online instead.
Some hoteliers argued that the spread of wholesale rates online creates a price war on search sites like Google and Trivago, pulling down overall prices.
Hotelbeds, the largest middleman for wholesale hotel inventory, has bristled at such complaints, which it has said are unfounded.
On Monday, the Palma, Spain-based company said in an interview that it had been taking action.
For example, Hotelbeds said that it reduced Amoma to about 1 percent of its sales.
“Amoma is one key example of us making sure that we’ve been significantly reducing our business with clients that hoteliers consider not to be generating value,” said managing director Carlos Muñoz.
A year ago, Hotelbeds created a “three strikes” policy. Now whenever it catches a customer putting inventory in the wrong channel three times, it stops sales to the customer, Muñoz said.
In the last year, Hotelbeds has had to hold back about $330 million (€300 million) worth of inventory from partners that hotels believe break contracts, Muñoz said.