French hotels sue Expedia

The french hotel’s union Synhorcat filed a suit against Expedia, Hotels.com and Tripadvisor on the 15th April. The main points of the suit are:

1. When clicking on a hotel’s photo in Tripadvisor the browser is immediately directed to Expedia whether the hotel has signed with Expedia or not. The hoteliers argue that it should link directly to the official website of the hotel.

2. Expedia sometimes promotes wild discounts such as 75% off without agreement from the hoteliers. And if there is no availability on a hotel. Expedia will still promote the hotel but direct the browser to another hotel thus using the hotel’s popularity to sell other properties.

3. Hotels.com seemingly dissuades users to book directly at the hotel’s website.

These are some of the main points I could understand from the article (see the original article in french here: http://www.zdnet.fr/actualites/internet/0,39020774,39750958,00.htm).

If this case will win or not is uncertain however a few points are clear. Expedia’s model of taking 25% of a hotel’s revenues isn’t appreciated much longer and despite their size, more and more hoteliers aren’t willing to give that type of money to a third party.

Secondly, Tripadvisor will need to open up and become a fully fledged social media. The fact that it is owned by Expedia isn’t going to do Expedia a favour anymore as it may just soon be faced with an anti-trust problem. It is only logical that Tripadvisor favours hotel’s official website. There was a step in that direction this year with the sale to hoteliers of a link to the official website.

Thirdly and most impotantly, websites like Expedia, Booking.com and others all the third party booking systems have a limited future unless they really start to help hoteliers. At the end of the day all they are doing it offer information to the internet users, but charging a huge price for it. Shouldn’t the information be free? Google seems to be making an entry into the field with rates noted on the Google Maps.

Expedia already makes no money on flight tickets… so their only real solution now is going to be to work out a way to give some real added value to hoteliers.

When I built WIHP there was one thing that I knew I had to do from day one and that was HELP hotel’s increase their profits. It has worked wonders so far making us the¬†incontestable¬†leaders in the Paris market. Let’s see how this pans out.

About Vincent Ramelli
Father of four, hotel owner and internet entrepreneur since the 1990s.

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