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13 April


Booking.com and Rakuten accused of seizing the hotel market in Japan

According to public figures, large booking services occupy 90% of the hotel rooms in the country

Photo: Nikkei

/NOVOSTIVL/ The Japanese fair trade watchdog's raid on the offices of travel booking websites Expedia, Booking.com and Rakuten Travel on Wednesday reveal the massive influence that online bookers have amassed, accounting for 90% of reservations for some hotels. This article appeared in the Nikkei Asian Review.

While on the surface booking sites appear to present customers good deals by promising the lowest rates on hotel rooms, the way the major players pressure hotels from offering cheaper deals to smaller websites with lower commissions, for instance, is a restrictive practice that keeps prices high, the Japan Fair Trade Commission suspects.

Prompting the probe were complaints from the Japanese hospitality industry accusing the booking sites of unduly restricting business.

The commission alleges not only that such arrangements keep room prices elevated, but also that they drive many of the available rooms to certain platforms, potentially creating a barrier for new rival sites.