IHG denies OFT price fixing allegations

Hotel News - 02/08/2012

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Hotel firm IHG has denied accusations that its deals with online travel agents are in breach of competition regulations.

InterContinental Hotels Group, the UK-based parent firm of Olympic hotel sponsor Holiday Inn, has said that its agreements with Expedia.com and Booking.com were completely in compliance with all regulatory guidelines and that it would fully cooperate with investigations into the matter.

The news comes after the Office of Fair Trading issued a “statement of objections” last week stating that IHG, the biggest hotel conglomerate in the world, was working with major online travel agents to boost prices on IHG inventory. The agency said that the effort was likely having an effect on competition in the marketplace.

Officials said the investigation was prompted after a smaller internet travel agent filed complaints against larger counterparts, saying that it was being forced to drop its discount rates.

If IHG is found to be in breach, the Crowne Plaza owner could be forced to pay fines as determined by the OFT.

Newcomers and smaller travel sellers typically pass along some of their commissions to customers to enable them to sell hotel rooms at discounted rates, although experts say that larger companies are now looking to put a stop to the model.

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