Booking.com Threaten Legal Action Against Triptease & Partners

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Triptease Price Check Widget

Triptease: Booking.com Update, April 27, 2016

In November 2015, Booking.com contacted a number of Triptease partners to discourage them from using our direct booking tools. They were able, based on extensive legal checks, to reassure them that they weren’t doing anything wrong. Booking.com was removed from Triptease tools for just a few weeks to give hotel partners time to respond to their concerns.

Booking.com have been back on the Triptease Price Check widget since January 2016 and they have received no further complaints.


Read the original article below:

Booking.com, the OTA behemoth with a reported 700,000+ properties under contract, appear to be threatening legal action against Travel SaaS start-up, Triptease. Triptease are the provider of price comparison tool ‘Price Check’, allowing hotels to show a price comparison of their direct rates versus three OTAs (Booking.com, Expedia.com and Hotels.com) within their own booking engine. They claim it has resulted in an increase of up to 35% in direct bookings for their clients.

In emails to hotel partners seen by Hotel Speak, Booking.com appear to be claiming that Triptease’s tool is “unlawfully accessing Booking.com’s data”, furthermore suggesting that “Booking.com price and availability information shown by the widget is often misleading, inaccurate and misrepresents the prices and availability being offered for rooms at your hotel on Booking.com”.

They go on to state that they’ve instructed external lawyers to pursue this matter with Triptease and imply that they are willing to take legal action against Partners who continue to feature Booking.com rates within the Triptease tool beyond a cut off date of November 27th, citing potential breaches of parity agreements.

Whether this is a widely circulated correspondence to Booking.com Partners using Triptease remains to be seen (Hotel Speak is aware of a number of hotels having received this email) but the outcome of any legal proceedings could be far reaching within the industry; Triptease claim to work with 6,468 hotels worldwide.

Has your property received a request from Booking.com? Let us know in the comments below or email editor@hotelspeak.com if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.


Update

Some hoteliers are reporting that they received calls from Booking.com (instead of emails) forcing them to remove the Triptease Price Check tool from their site.


Triptease Respond

Hotel Speak approached Triptease for comment;

“It has come to light that many of our customers have received threatening letters from Booking.com. These letters make various demands of the hotels, for example that they remove the brand from the widget or remove the widget altogether. Booking.com has threatened hotels with punishments such as legal action, reduced visibility, or termination of their partnership. We think this is highly unreasonable,” said GM EMEA at Triptease, James Osmond.

“We have taken legal advice and remain confident that we have done nothing wrong other than try to provide price transparency and convenience for consumers. We have been in touch with Booking.com since learning about these letters. We haven’t heard back yet,” he added.

“A number of clients have expressed their frustration and disappointment at Booking.com’s letter and it has been very heartening to hear many say they won’t give in to the demands of a company that wields fearsome market power”.

Triptease has a number of measures in place for any hotels that wish to continue increasing their direct bookings using the Price Check Widget. Contact jameso@triptease.com to find out more.


A full transcript of the email from Booking.com for reference;

Dear Partner,

At Booking.com we pride ourselves in conducting our business in an ethical matter. This business conduct is throughout our business including the respect we take in our accommodation partnership agreements through to the display of all types of information towards our growing new and existing customer base. It is our belief that we should achieve the right results the right way.

We understand that you are currently making use of a TripTease ‘Price Check Widget’ on your website.

We believe that TripTease is unlawfully accessing Booking.com’s data in order to collate the Booking.com information shown by the widget. Moreover, we wanted to make you aware that the Booking.com price and availability information shown by the widget is often misleading, inaccurate and misrepresents the prices and availability being offered for rooms at your hotel on Booking.com. As you will know, misleading comparative advertising is a breach of European law in the European Union and in many other jurisdictions around the world.

We have instructed our external lawyers to pursue this matter with TripTease. We are prepared to take whatever action is necessary to protect Booking.com, our reputation and our data. For the avoidance of doubt, this includes taking legal action against our Partners to the extent they are in breach of their contracts with us – although we hope that will not be necessary.

In some cases, the TripTease widget suggests that the price of booking a room direct is cheaper than the price offered through Booking.com. As you know, pursuant to your contract with us, you are required to provide Booking.com with parity in respect of the prices for your rooms. If you are not currently providing Booking.com with the correct prices in accordance with your contract, we ask that you do so immediately.

If you are providing us with the correct prices, it may be that the widget is simply not capable of making the correct price comparison and is therefore failing to show an accurate price for the comparable reservation with Booking.com. Nevertheless, by displaying any such inaccurate prices on your website, you are engaging in the misleading comparative advertising practices referred to above.

As such, we require you, as our Partner, to remove the Booking.com brand and rates from the widget on your website prior to Friday 27 November 2015. If you are unable to do this, we ask that you remove the TripTease widget from your website entirely. Please confirm by immediate return letter or email to your local account manager that you will, and will continue to, comply with our request.

To the extent that you do not reply or fail to comply with our reasonable requests in this regard, Booking.com’s rights are reserved – including to take such legal action as we deem necessary.

We also wish to take the opportunity to reiterate that you are an important Partner to Booking.com and we value our relationship with you. Indeed, we look forward to it continuing into the future.

Yours faithfully,

Booking.com

Sam Weston
Sam Weston is an experienced digital marketing professional who has worked both client and agency side with a focus on the hospitality industry. Currently, he is Marketing Manager for a full service creative and digital marketing agency, 80 DAYS, based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Any views expressed on this site are his own.
  • HotelTechy

    I would like to know what is the position of Sabre in this context? Sabre is with Synxis the biggest partner of TripTease. And what is the position of the other partners, like Availpro, WebHotelier, Idiso, Simple Booking, Regatta or Be Better… In my opinion, these providers should protect their hotel customers so long until it is resolved legally, or not?!?!

  • Sam Wilson

    Really interesting stance by booking.com.

    Our price comparison tool was the first on brand.com in the hotel world and came a good few months before triptease. When developing the tool we ensured it was pulling accurate rates from all OTAs sites. As soon as a price checker starts to display incorrect rates it becomes redundant and misleads the consumer.

    We have just removed our price comparison tool temporarily whilst we develop it further and so that we can A/B test its effectiveness.

    All major booking engines are now developing their own versions and integrating into the booking process so there will be no need soon for a separate subscription to tools like triptease.

    • Marcelo verdier

      LOL…

      This is very similar to a Sicilian Mafia letter….

  • Steve G

    The technology is the same as meta-sites and pull rates all the same way. Booking feels threatens by the same (type of) technology which allows them to sell on TA, Trivago, Kayak and more. #pathetic

  • Mohamed Muaz Xinthi

    I really do not understand why should they be threatened.. People who like to book with them will book with them, any way. Why should this price transparency should become a problem, while out there are many places who are offering Travel Searches (e.g. Kayak.com, Hipmunk.com, Tripbeaver.com…etc .. ) they all shows different prices, and if you compare for destinations like Seychelles, Thailand, Dubai, Maldives, Mauritius, etc.. I believe the top site with the cheapest prices is Venera.com most of the time,. Agoda.com and Booking.com stay a bit lower due to the price range..

    As a person from Hospitality back ground. I believe we should show the travelers the price transparency.. It may differ due to quality of service and efficiency provided by the providers.. So it is totally up to the provider to meet the customers expectation to keep them in their loyalty team..

    Hotel trying to get direct booking would not be an issue, as most of the leading hotel chains are having their own pool of customers.. So why should not the small properties take their portion of direct customers to make their sale team busy..

    Tech-entrepreneurs should not be threaten, mean while who are the people behind booking.com, So they should encourage the tech-entrepreneurs instead of making them stop their invention…

  • Webbyrj

    Oh Hoteliers everywhere! Why can’t we all see that companies like Booking,dot,com and the rest of the OTA’s are just milking the industry of 15-20% of hard earned revenue! Its down to all hoteliers to get up to speed , and drop all OTA’s. Use every other method of marketing , that is much cheaper, to get non regular guests to book direct on the Hotels own Website! I think what really upsets me is the rate of commission they charge! If it was 5-7.5% , then it would be fair! Come on , everyone! Drop The OTA’s. All together! Maybe we need a “DTOTASDAY” Drop the OTA’s Day.

    • Completely agree. That warrants a hashtag too! #dtotasday! 🙂

      • Webbyrj

        Thank you! We use Clock PMS and it generates over 45% of online bookings direct though our own websites! We have one room on Booking.com, just so we have a presence! We take hardly any bookings through them. We use Facebook, twitter and direct email to promote ourselves! Clock PMS has been one of the best Hotelier decisions we have ever made! #dtotasday 😉

  • Just wondering, given that PriceMatch has been acquired by Priceline and is now BookingSuite RateManager, could it be that they plan to integrate their own rate comparison tool in the suite and limit the access to their rates only to properties that use their software package. Many acquisitions of the past two years point to the idea that Priceline try to enter more deeply into hotel business, putting a hand on own websites, rate management and perhaps even the whole hotel management system (remember hotelninjas). This would be a trap for hoteliers, leaving their digital assets in the hands of a powerful third-party. They should rather focus on and invest in own marketing channels to remain independent, like Webbyrj said. It’s doable! #dtotasday!