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ACCC Won’t Oppose Expedia Buying Wotif

ACCC WonACCC chairman, Rod Sims said that although the ACCC “had noted the concerns raised by market participants that Wotif represented an important source of bookings for some accommodation providers and that its removal from the Australian market may result in them paying higher commission rates to online travel agents (OTAs).”

Sims continued, saying the ACCC had found there has been a lot of changes in the dynamics of the online accommodation market lately. “This has included new entry by a number of competitors and business models, including Booking.com, which has grown quickly to become the largest OTA in Australia,” he said.

The ACCC also noted the increasing importance of metasearch sites such as TripAdvisor and Google Hotels Finder, which aggregate the offers of hotels and numerous OTAs in one place for customers to choose from.  TripAdvisor is consistently one of the top two travel-related websites visited by consumers in Australia.

“Metasearch websites increasingly facilitate hotels’ ability to promote themselves alongside OTAs, and transact directly with consumers,” Sims said.

He said the ACCC considered the acquisition of Wotif by Expedia was unlikely to diminish the dynamic nature of the industry. “Disruptive developments from smaller OTAs and from companies in related online sectors, such as the metasearch providers, can be expected to constrain Expedia in the future,” Sims added.

For these reasons, the ACCC concluded the proposed acquisition was not likely to result in a substantial lessening of competition. The ACCC will outline the reasons for its decision in more detail in a forthcoming Public Competition Assessment.