“Booking took the hoteliers of Avignon hostage”

Anger is mounting among hoteliers in France, and more particularly among those in Avignon. The president of the union of hospitality trades and industries (Umih) of Vaucluse, Patrick Mounier, is leading the rebellion against the online reservation platform Booking with some twenty hoteliers in Avignon. They are primarily opposed to “head of customer” commissions and want to “educate” customers.

Why are you angry with Booking?

Booking has taken hoteliers hostage by imposing on them commissions that we consider disproportionate. They are not up to date with digital reality, they set them at a time when they were doing it a bit over the head of the customer. They vary between 13 and 25% depending on the hotel, which is why we’ve been angry for a while. We had already tried to take actions but it always fell through.

Why go all the way this time?

During Covid-19 and confinement, Booking forced certain hoteliers to reimburse non-flexible bookings. Basically, the hoteliers were in favor of making certain reimbursements, but given the difficult situation, this obligation fell badly. Umih Nationale wrote to Booking, they never responded. They only had a videoconference, and Booking sent them over the top.

What are you asking for?

We are asking for a reduction in commissions to at least 5% for this summer, the period is already shaping up to be very complicated with the Covid-19. This would allow us all to sit around the table to open negotiations for the future.

Are you experiencing the same situation with other booking platforms?

We also approached Expedia, and they answered us. Discussions have started. Le Bon Coin has also just created a reservation platform for the hotel industry. They have chosen not to apply any commission until December 31st and they will be less than 10% thereafter.

What action do you plan to take to make your voice heard?

The Booking platform works in territories, which prevents us from taking national action. There have already been some in Ajaccio, and others are planned for Cannes. Here in Avignon, around twenty hotels will increase the prices of our rooms by 300, 400 or even 500% on the booking platform between July 10 and 17. The customer will say to himself, there is something wrong with Booking, he can redirect himself to other platforms or directly to us. We accept to take the risk that he goes elsewhere, we want to bend Booking.

Is it also a way to educate your customers?

We are going to set up media actions to teach people how to book again, so that they no longer necessarily go through booking platforms. When they book a night on Booking for 120 €, we don’t even get 100 €, whereas the customer could have it for 100 € by booking directly with us. Customers must be aware that by booking on Booking they are giving more than € 20 to a company that does not have a head office in France, and that does not pay taxes there.

We wish to thank the author of this short article for this remarkable material

“Booking took the hoteliers of Avignon hostage”

Hank Gilbert