A British competition watchdog has dropped an investigation into hotel booking rate discount, claiming a “restriction on administrative priority grounds”.

The Competition and Markets Authority was handed the investigation in September last year after Skyscanner won a tribunal to quash an earlier agreement between its predecessor (The Office of Fair Trading) and InterContenental Hotels Group, Booking.com and Expedia.

The deal enabled online travel agencies (OTAs) and hotels to offer discounts to consumers who joined a closed membership scheme.

The OTAs would have been required by hotels to prevent rate discounts from being publicised outside the membership group — something Skyscanner protested.

The ruling would mean OTAs and hotels would have to renegotiate their contracts with other parties to make sure that any promises of transparency or best-rate parity were removed.

One year on and the CMA says, despite ending the investigation, it will maintain a “careful watch” on how the markets develops in the UK and in other European markets where regulators have ruled against the rate parity agreements between online travel agencies and some hotel groups.

The regulator’s senior director for antitrust, Ann Pope, says it is “a sensible point” for it to “take stock and refocus our activity in this important sector”.

Read full article at:  Tnooz