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Will Listing On Booking.Com Penalise My Pricing?

My name is Rex Brown. I live in Australia, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria. I run two of my holiday rentals here on the coast, and another in inner Melbourne . They are all quite different, but they all run at high occupancy. They are the sandpit that I play in, running constant experiments about what works and what doesn’t.

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This week a friend said she hadn’t listed on booking.com because she was worried they would control her prices.  Is she right?

Well, yes and no.

For years Booking has had a price parity clause in their contract with owners that said the owner had to offer Booking a price as low as anywhere else, that is, to control your price.  However, this practice has come under increasing pressure globally for breaching anti competitive laws.  For example, France has outlawed such practice totally and in most of the EU, you can have any price on external websites, but not lower prices on your own website.
That is also the case in Australia, but you can have lower prices on your website for loyalty schemes and where the prospective guest calls direct.

In practice, hotels with hundreds of rooms are easily scrutinised for keeping to the parity rule.
However many hundreds of sole owner short term rental owners who are confused about price parity anyway are harder to scrutinise.  A smaller owner is likely to set any price they want and if challenged, reasonably say they are confused by the unconscionably complex 11,400 word agreement.   Any crackdown on an individual owner would attract publicity and public outrage at the oppression of a small owner by a giant dominant player, and would possibly trigger a review of anticompetitive behaviour by authorities.

In practical terms, you can do what you like with pricing.

Should my friend list with Booking?  Yes.  They are growing constantly due to their market dominance and bring in valuable extra bookings. In a previous article I discuss how you can optimise your listing with Booking.

If in the most unlikely event they give you grief on price, simply delist, you’ve lost nothing.

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