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Investigation on Possible Market Distortion after Booking.com Scandal

Hungary Today 2023.08.25.

The Competition Authority has launched an accelerated sector inquiry into the online booking and accommodation services market in Hungary. The investigation will assess whether competition may have been distorted by, among other things, the Booking.com scandal, which has recently been the subject of a number of complaints.

The investigation includes an analysis of the competitive situation in the Hungarian online accommodation market and an examination of the contractual terms and practices applied by market players towards accommodation providers which may have an impact on competition between them.

The authority said that, according to market information received by them,

the recent use of contractual terms and practices by Booking.com, one of the largest online accommodation platforms, which it did not apply to all of its partners, has caused serious disruption to the business of many Hungarian accommodation providers.


As reported earlier by Hungary TodayBooking.com was several weeks behind with the payment of accommodation fees in July. Like foreign hosts, domestic ones were also outraged by the delayed payments, affecting them particularly painfully during the high season. The travel portal cited the maintenance of its financial system between July 1 and 11, and said that it has issued a notice in advance informing accommodation providers that payments for guests checked in between June 28 and July 19 will be made by July 24, and the normal payment schedule will be fully restored by July 27. However, Booking.com has failed to meet the deadlines indicated in the notice.

The previously announced deadline of July was later modified, and the modified deadline was extended several times, while payments were made, but – as it turned out – only a few people received the accommodation fees. However, it is not known how many people were not paid, nor how many were affected.

Eventually, Booking.com promised payment on 14 August to accommodation providers whose transactions have been delayed for weeks. According to some sources, this has been fulfilled almost 100%.

Lately, there has been an alert from Hungarian accommodation providers about Booking’s payment practices practically every day, with 28 complaints to the Competition Authority in less than a month about the withholding of accommodation fees.

This raises the suspicion that free market competition between providers has been distorted, which could have a direct impact on consumers booking accommodation.

The opening of an accelerated investigation is also justified by the fact that the sector has been particularly affected by COVID. The Competition Authority is therefore monitoring all circumstances that may hamper the recovery of the sector and the free competition.

In the course of its investigation, the authority will, among other things, analyze the detailed causes of distortions of competition by assessing the information collected from market players on the basis of mandatory responses, so that it can take the necessary steps to remedy them. Once the information gathering and analysis of the data is complete, the authority will summarize the results of the sector inquiry in a public report.

Aftermath of Booking.com Delayed Payment Episode
Aftermath of Booking.com Delayed Payment Episode

The Hungarian Competition Authority launched a complaint procedure against the online platform.Continue reading

The Booking.com scandal has become so much at the center of talks, that the Hungarian Tourism Agency decided to step in. The organization has contacted accommodation providers by e-mail and asked them to give feedback on their situation by filling in a questionnaire to assess how many people and how much they have been affected by the case, indicating that they are preparing to move forward.

Featured photo via Pixabay

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