The Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) imposed on the managing aggregator Booking.com. the company (Booking.com BV, Netherlands) a turnover fine of RUB 1.3 billion. for abuse of a dominant position in the Russian market of hotel aggregators, the press service of the department reported.
“The company imposed on hotels, hotels, hostels the terms of an agreement on the need to provide and comply with the parity of prices and rooms, as well as the terms of interaction with closed user groups,” the department said, explaining that for hotels this meant that they could not set a price on their services in other sales channels is lower than on the aggregator.
According to the department, such actions restrict competition in the market, and also lead to infringement of the interests of hotels. At the same time, the Dutch company until this moment did not fulfill the FAS order. The punishment for this violation is provided for in Part 2 of Art. 14.31 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation (abuse of a dominant position in the commodity market).
Booking.com told Vedomosti that they are disappointed with the FAS decision and intend to appeal it. “We intend to appeal this decision on the fine while we await the results of the appeal against the FAS conclusion regarding our practice of price parity,” the company said.
Alexey Kozhevnikov, Vice President, Chairman of the Tourism Committee of Opora Rossii, told Vedomosti that the organization was satisfied with the FAS decision. At the same time, he noted that the FAS order to stop imposing price parity for Russian hotels is now being appealed by Booking.com in an arbitration court.
“The Russian tourism industry will be satisfied when Booking complies with the order to stop imposing price parity and stops abusing its dominant position in the market,” Kozhevnikov said.
In early February, Booking.com BV filed a lawsuit with the Moscow Arbitration Court to recognize the FAS decision, which obliged the aggregator to exclude the clause on providing the best price from agreements with Russian companies as illegal. The next meeting is scheduled for August 30th.
As Kozhevnikov previously explained to Vedomosti, the establishment of price parity led to an overestimation of the commission for hoteliers and an increase in the cost of hotel services for end consumers, since it includes a fee that the hotel must pay to the platform: if at the beginning of the service the commission was 15%, now – in the struggle for priority placement in search results – goes beyond 25% and above.
FAS Russia completed consideration of the antitrust case against Booking.com BV in December last year. It was initiated as a result of consideration of the appeal of the All-Russian public organization of small and medium-sized enterprises “Support of Russia”.
Earlier, the organization wrote a letter to the head of the FAS Igor Artemyev, in which it expressed concern about the state of competition in the hotel booking market and asked to check the activities of Booking.com. In particular, the letter said that the service, whose market share reaches 70%, imposes unfavorable terms of partnership due to its dominant position.