Case reference: CE/9320/10
Case opened: September 2010
In September 2010, the OFT launched a formal investigation into suspected breaches of competition law in the hotel online booking sector, in particular in relation to specific vertical arrangements between hotels and Online Travel Agents (OTAs).
On 31 July 2012, the OFT issued a Statement of Objections alleging that Booking.com B.V. (Booking.com), Expedia Inc (Expedia) and InterContinental Hotels Group plc (IHG) infringed UK and EU competition law in relation to the online offering of room only hotel accommodation bookings by OTAs. The Statement of Objections alleged that Booking.com and Expedia each entered into separate agreements with IHG which restricted each OTA's ability to discount the rate at which room only hotel accommodation bookings are offered to consumers.
For further details, see press release OFT issues Statement of Objections against Booking.com, Expedia and IHG (31 July 2012).
Parties under investigation are given a full opportunity to respond to a Statement of Objections issued to them before the OFT makes its decision as to whether competition law has in fact been infringed or closes the investigation. No assumption should be made at this stage that there has been an infringement of competition law. The parties have not formally responded to the Statement of Objections to date, and have instead proposed to address the OFT's concerns by offering formal commitments. On 9 August 2013, the OFT opened a consultation on these proposed commitments. On 20 December 2013, the OFT opened a consultation on revised commitments, as outlined below.
On 9 August 2013, the OFT opened a public consultation on commitments proposed by Booking.com, Expedia and IHG, designed to address the OFT's competition concerns in relation to the online offering of room only hotel accommodation bookings by OTAs. For further details, see press release OFT consults on proposed hotel booking commitments (9 August 2013).
The parties submitted revised commitments in response to the outcome of the consultation and other developments. The OFT currently considers that the revised commitments address its competition concerns. On 20 December 2013, the OFT opened a further public consultation on the revised commitments proposed by the parties. The OFT will carefully consider the responses to the consultation before deciding whether to accept the proposed revised commitments.
As part of its consultation the OFT invites interested third parties to submit their views on the proposed revised commitments.
Anyone wishing to comment on the revised commitments should submit their views by 17 January 2014 to:
Hotel Online Booking Team (SIP)
Office of Fair Trading
2-6 Salisbury Square
First published: 16 October 2012
|Investigation opened||10 September 2010
|Information gathering, including issuance of formal or informal information requests and parties' responses||September 2010 - June 2012 (actual)|
|- OFT analysis and review of parties' responses to information requests
- Issue of further information requests
- Internal governance processes to decide investigation outcome
|October 2010 - July 2012 (actual)|
|Investigation outcome (issue of Statement of Objections; case closure - see Procedural Guidance)||Statement of Objections issued on 31 July 2012 (actual)
|Consultation opened on commitments proposed by Booking.com, Expedia and IHG||9 August 2013 (actual)|
|Consultation period||9 August - 13 September 2013 (actual)|
|Consultation opened on revised commitments proposed by Booking.com, Expedia and IHG and European Commission officially informed of the OFT's intention to accept revised commitments.||20 December 2013 (actual)|
|Consultation period on revised commitments||20 December 2013 - 17 January 2014 (actual)|
|Final decision on proposed commitments||January/February 2014 (estimate)|
The following changes have been made to the original estimates in the administrative timetable since it was first published in October 2012. See original timetable (pdf 42kb), timetable from March 2013 (pdf 65kb) and timetable from August 2013 (pdf 47kb).
|Date of change||Reason for change||Nature of change(s) made to timetable|
|March 2013||Additional time required for procedural steps||Estimated timing of future phases/milestones put back by four months|
|August 2013||OFT opened consultation on commitments proposed by Booking.com, Expedia and IHG||Estimated timing of future phases/milestones amended to reflect offering of commitments by parties|
|December 2013||OFT opened consultation on revised commitments proposed by Booking.com, Expedia and IHG||Estimated timing of future phases/milestones amended to reflect offering of revised commitments by parties|
Ann Pope (020 7211 8786, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gaucho Rasmussen (020 7211 8497, email@example.com)
Fran Mendia-Lara (020 7211 8159 firstname.lastname@example.org)
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