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28 September 2016

Booking websites ease rules in Aussie

Hotels can now offer lower prices over phone.

If you’re planning a trip to Australia, it could pay to call hotels for their best price. They’ve just been given the OK to offer a better rate over the phone than what sites such as wotif.com and booking.com charge.

Aussie hotels that sold rooms through the online booking sites had been contractually prevented from offering lower rates through their own channels. Following an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), Expedia and Booking.com have agreed to amend their price parity clauses. Expedia’s subsidiaries include hotels.com, lastminute.com and wotif.com.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said accommodation providers are now able to offer lower rates through telephone bookings, walk-ins and to customer loyalty groups. However, they still can’t have a lower price on their own website.

The companies’ price parity terms – also known as “most favoured nation” clauses – have also been put on ice in the EU following scrutiny from regulators. No changes have been announced back here. The Commerce Commission said it would be talking to Expedia and Booking.com about the issue.

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