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Booking Investigation: TÜRSAB Came to the Agencies Rescue

Booking Investigation: TÜRSAB Came to the Agencies Rescue
Burcu KAYMAK
Burcu KAYMAK
04/08/2015
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 Last week, after a preliminary investigation, Competition Authority made the decision to start a full investigation into Booking.com, B.V. and Bookingdotcom Support Services. Ltd. as the result of a complaint made by Turkey Travel Agencies Union (TÜRSAB), last January, about European centred online reservation giant “Booking”.

Firstly, “Booking”put our countries agencies out of business with their “best price guaranteed” practice and they also deny the customers freedom of choice by dominating the tourism companies with their policy.

 

Of course the ultimate beneficiaries are the customers of the “best price guaranteed” practice, but whilst satisfying the customers you cannot deny or ignore the other players. Also, what can be said about an environment with no alternative competition and local competitors improving themselves, but that’s another topic for discussion.

I know this decision to investigate by Competition Authority will be criticised by some circles, using the argument that “Turkey has a free-market economy and anyone can provide any service under any circumstance”. However, the 7 thousand registered agencies and the people employed by these companies, that are the backbone of this country’s Tourism Industry, and also the money going abroad without taxation, should be put into consideration.

If the hoteliers are not able to offer prices lower than Booking on other sites, and if the company is using this as a marketing tool, and if it puts the company in a position where it could affect the country’s tourism internal dynamics, then something needs to be done about it.

Although, as much as it’s a free and competitive market, a commercial formation based and taxed in Holland is suppressing the agencies with its sectorial power and leaving the business owners with no choice, should be stopped at least for this country’s interest.

The solution of course is not closing off the site; blocking access is the biggest mistake that can be made. I think the best solution is for Booking to review their company policy and taking step towards localization in Turkey, and abandoning their “best price guaranteed” policy as their monopolization strategy; to start cooperating with relevant authorities and organizations, primarily with agencies and tourism companies.

Thanks goes to TÜRSAB’s chairman Başaran Ulusoy for taking decisive steps despite the reactions from some circles and not giving up on this for the sake of the country’s Tourism Industry. In the future, we will be expecting the same commitment from the Ministry of Tourism.

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