19 January 2006 | Anusha Bradley
Operators of hotel booking systems have begun charging for premium listing slots ahead of anticipated deregulation this year.
The move confirmed concerns about smaller suppliers' ability to advertise (see News, 25 August
Global distribution systems (GDS) such as Amadeus and Sabre - which display flight and hotel prices for booking firms - have launched products on which hotels pay for priority slots. Charging for placement has started as hotels anticipate deregulation of travel booking systems - a move that will allow priority placement across the industry.
The EC has discussed liberalising the industry for the past three years and a decision is expected in the next few months.
John MacOmish, managing director of booking firm Hotelzon Resotel, said: "GDSs are testing the ground to create new income streams." Buyers must monitor how their agency manages bookings, he added.
MacOmish said Sabre claims hotels have 4.6 per cent more chance of getting bookings using a premium listing. Sabre refused to comment.
Some firms are developing systems to connect directly with suppliers to bypass the cost of GDS. Booking Services International this month struck a direct deal with hotel chain Travel Inn.