Following complaints from the Spanish Association of Hotel Managers and the Regional Hotel Association of Madrid, Spain’s competition authority has launched an inquiry into suspected anti-competitive activity by the Dutch online travel agency behemoth, Booking.com.
On October 17, 2022, the national competition regulator stated that it will investigate whether Booking.com’s practices constitute an abuse of a dominant position in the provision of intermediation services to hotels — and thus whether it is imposing unfair trading conditions on hotels in Spain and imposing commercial policies that may have exclusionary effects on other online travel agencies and online sales channels.
“After reviewing the complaints received and information gathered under the preliminary investigation, the Competition Directorate of the CNMC considers that there are grounds to support the possibility that Booking.com B.V. may have breached articles 2 and 3 of the SCA [Spanish Competition Act] and article 102 of the TFEU [Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union],” the CNMC added.
Booking.com was contacted for comment. Update: The company has sent this statement:
“We have and will continue to partner with the CNMC on their questions regarding Booking.com Spain. Booking.com has always and will continue to work collaboratively with our accommodation partners in the travel ecosystem, which has only recently seen signs of recovery as we enter a further uncertain future with the global economic environment. We continue to work tirelessly to secure and deliver much-needed demand for our accommodation partners, helping them fill their rooms every day.”
The Spanish watchdog has up to 18 months to complete its investigation and make a conclusion. It further said that the initiation of legal procedures did not prejudge the eventual outcome.