Booking.com and Expedia are two of the biggest multinational tax cheats about and their rapid growth and now market dominance has become a headache for competition regulators.
They now control 85 per cent of the short-stay market in Australia and small accomodation operators are utterly at their mercy as, if they don’t pay the steeply rising commissions to the Online Travel Agency (OTA) duopoly, they don’t get seen on Google searches.
Mum and dad operators are increasingly directing their anger at the ACCC which they accuse of allowing the market dominance to arise and recently failing to prevent the two big OTAs from exercising “price parity” (permitting the providers from setting their own prices, offering lower prices than the duopoly).
This from industry publication AccomNews:
The national competition watchdog stands accused of double standards over its failure to stop online travel agencies dictating accommodation prices.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has failed to stop online giants Expedia and Booking.com demanding price parity from accommodation providers, according to the industry’s peak representative body.
The Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA) says the practice continues across hundreds of accommodation businesses, yet the ACCC took legal action to prevent Flight Centre enforcing a similar policy with airlines.
While community resentment over the aggressive tax practises of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple has been well telegraphed in the media, the OTA giants have managed to fly under the radar, only being pinged for tax cheating by michaelwest.com.au.
The Tax Office doesn’t disclose the identities of the companies it is targeting in its enforcement campaign to make foreign internet giants pay tax on the profits they make selling services to Australian customers. We do know Google and Facebook have been forced to “onshore” revenue. It would be good to see more transparency from the ATO so aggrieved customers of the short-stay duopoly could at least have the comfort of knowing the spiralling profits of Booking.com and Expedia were subject to tax.