Hungary: National competition watchdog GVH raided the Budapest office of Booking Holdings on Wednesday as part of a probe into the online accommodation booking and service market in Hungary.
Balint Horvath, head of communications at GVH, told Reuters that the raid was conducted as part of a sector inquiry launched by the national competition authority on August. 24.
“We can confirm that we are fully cooperating with the Hungarian Economic Competition Office, who visited our offices today,” Booking said in a statement.
The GVH launched its enquiry to “assess whether competition may have been harmed by, among other things, Booking’s contracting and contract enforcement practices“.
“According to market information received by the GVH, the business of many Hungarian accommodation providers has recently been seriously disrupted by the fact that one of the largest online accommodation platforms – Booking.com – has applied contractual terms and practices to them that it does not apply to other accommodation partners,” it said, citing Booking’s payment practices.
GVH said it had received 28 complaints about the withholding of accommodation fees, which it said might have affected fair competition between accommodation providers.
Elsewhere it has been reported that Booking Holdings is set to lose out on the €1.67 billion acquisition of Sweden’s eTraveli Group, a very transaction that has been in limbo for nearly two years. The EU Commission is expected to oppose the deal, citing competition in online hotel sales, where Booking.com is a leader, as a concern.