You may have seen quite negative trade and public media comment regarding some of the practices of Online Travel Agents (OTA) following a House of Lords Select Committee report on “Online Platforms and the Digital Single Market” published on 20 April. A good summary of the key points specifically relating to OTA’s within what is a much bigger and wider report on online platform and the (EU) single market can be accessed at: http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2021796
Whether positive or negative, the impact of OTA on traditional trading methods are undeniably large. Consequently many who have been impacted (negatively?) will welcome this Parliamentary intervention. However, we should note that the potential benefit of the intervention may be limited simply because the House of Lords Select Committee involved is looking at last year’s European Commissions Digital Single Market Strategy for Europe and is therefore rightly the Lord’s EU Select Committee and not any one of a number of other Westminster departmental committees with more direct responsibility for the implementation and management of associated UK policies. I may be wrong but if it isn’t their own Departmental Select Committee raising the concerns, then it is yet another stepped removed from a process that already demands only that the lead Westminster departments concerned note and reply to Select Committee reports and not necessarily act on any recommendations they may contain.
What the report has done is raised public awareness of potential issues around OTAs, which give opportunity for further awareness building. The main body of the report also provides some real useful factual detail and some strong evidence supporting industry and consumer concerns. Given the size and breadth of the report if forced to be selective I’d recommend Chapter 5, Competition Law, and Chapter 7, Consumer protection and online Platforms, as those containing detail the most pertinent for anyone wrestling locally with the issues now, or having to do so at some future date: