Online travel agencies have not had a significant impact on hotel competition – EU study including shows in Cyprus

An external market study by the European Commission including Cyprus indicates no significant change in the competitive situation in the bloc’s hotel accommodation distribution sector between 2017 and 2021 compared to 2016.

In particular, the recently published market study was carried out in 2021 and focused on a representative sample of six Member States – Cyprus, Austria, Belgium, Poland, Spain and Sweden.

The study aimed to obtain updated facts on hotel distribution practices, following a similar monitoring exercise carried out by the European Competition Network in 2016.

In addition, to determine if hotel distribution practices differ across Member States, identify any changes in hotel distribution practices, compared to the results of the 2016 REC monitoring exercise.

The results of the market investigation do not indicate any significant change in the competitive situation in the hotel accommodation distribution sector in the EU compared to 2016. In particular:

  • Online travel agencies (“OTAs”) account for 44% of independent hotel room sales, a slight increase from 2016.
  • and Expedia remain the top OTAs for hotel bookings and there are no signs of significant changes in OTA market shares or new OTA entry.
  • Commission rates paid by hotels to OTAs seem to have remained stable or slightly decreased.
  • The level of room price and room availability differentiation applied by hotels both between different OTAs and between the hotels’ own websites and OTAs appears to have diminished.
  • It seems that some OTAs use commercial measures, such as improved/reduced visibility on the OTA website, to incentivize hotels to offer them the best room rates and conditions.
  • The relative importance of hotel sales channels (online/offline, direct/indirect) differs to some extent between Member States, but there do not seem to be significant differences in the competitive conditions of OTAs.
  • Austrian and Belgian laws prohibiting the use of wide and narrow OTA parity clauses in the hotel sector do not appear to have led to significant changes in hotel distribution practices, compared to other Member States covered by the study.
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