Highlighting the effects of online travel and accommodation websites on the consumers, virtual community platform LocalCircles wrote to the ministry of consumer affairs urging it to bring such portals under the ambit of the proposed ecommerce rules.
In the letter written on October 30, LocalCircles stated most of the online travel agency (OTA) platforms keep customers in the dark by not revealing the convenience and booking-cancellation charge till the final stage of booking.
Moreover, LocalCircles highlighted that OTA platforms charge high convenience and booking charges from the customers. Therefore, the social media company has asked the government to enforce timely booking cancellations, refunds, and standard convenience charges to ensure consumers’ interest.
Even the local hotel owners are seeking regulations on the OTA platforms as they also reportedly affect the small business owners. The hoteliers claim that the big players in the sector have driven small hotels out of business.
Hoteliers Write To Commerce Ministry
Last month, the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India (FHRAI) wrote to the ministry of commerce regarding the same. Gurbaxish Singh Kohli, vice president of FHRAI, told ET that the body has been asked to prepare documents highlighting their issues.
FHRAI has also filed a complaint against the OTA portals — MakeMyTrip, Goibibo and OYO — in the Competition Commission of India (CCI), claiming that their dominance over the hospitality sector has been unfair to its small hoteliers.
In its response, the CCI said, on October 30, that there is no provision for “collective dominance”, therefore OYO, MakeMyTrip and Goibibo cannot be considered to hold a dominant position together. It has also specified that OYO is a hotel chain, whereas MakeMyTrip and Goibibo are OTA platforms that act as a distribution portal for the hotels.
The hotelier’s body has accused MakeMyTrip, Goibibo, and OYO of indulging in predatory practices, high commissions and non-uniform commissions. In response to this, CCI has directed a government official to carry out a detailed investigation into the matter and submit a report to the commission within 150 days.