Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the apparent good relationship between Spanish hospitality and Booking.com has exploded. The disagreements started when the OTA decided to allow customers to cancel non-refundable reservations free of charge without checking with hoteliers.
The Association of Hotel Companies of Madrid has now decided to take legal action against Booking.com asking that their practices be investigated.
They explained that the OTA charges its clients up to 40% in commissions, which they consider “abusive and contrary to competition law”.
Spanish hotels didn’t seem to have any complaints about the platform before the pandemic, as Booking.com accounts for 80% of their billing.
However, and after numerous complaints, the Hotel Association is now urging the authorities to look into Booking.com’s practices.
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Spain is one of the hardest hit countries with a loss of 67 million euros and a 77% drop in tourism.
Hotel owners believe that the fact that the platform charges up to 40% more than the actual price of the property in commissions has a direct negative impact on tourist establishments, which are already in difficulty due to the pandemic.
They also claimed that there were unethical practices regarding “control of the website over customers, because for the management of reservations and payment for the service, Booking.com also obtains control of the customer, which has a negative effect on the hotel establishment. , who is the one providing this service “.
Last April, the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers had already lodged a complaint about Booking’s rates and commissions.
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However, the travel operator responded to this by saying “it is fair that hotels offer at least the same price on Booking.com as on their own website”.
He argued that his rates are “fair” because of the promotion he is doing on the hotel’s offer.
In this war, it seems that Google has taken part on the hotel side.
This year, the American multinational has made public its proposal to offer free booking links to hotels.
Google’s goal is to break the duopoly of Booking and Expedia, which represent 50% of global tourism.
Express.co.uk has contacted Booking.com for comment.
Currently, Booking.com is under investigation by the Italian government for tax evasion.
They claim that the travel agency evaded 153 million euros in value added tax (VAT) in connection with vacation rentals booked through its platform.
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Italian police said they “discovered a massive tax evasion of over 150 million euros in unpaid VAT from 2013 to 2019 by a multinational online travel agency based in the Netherlands.”
Booking.com confirmed having received the audit report “which we intend to discuss in full cooperation with the Italian tax authorities”.
However, the company claims that hotel owners who use the platform are responsible for collecting and paying the VAT they owe in Italy and other countries in the European Union.
Col. Ivan Bixio, head of the Genoa police group leading the investigation, told Reuters that the type of escape they discovered “was generating huge profits for beneficiaries, hurting public budgets and shifting competition rules “.