Italy's antitrust watchdog investigates TripAdvisor, booking sites
MILAN (Reuters) - Italy's competition watchdog is looking into TripAdvisor to see if the influential holiday review website takes appropriate measures to avoid publishing fake opinions.
The antitrust authority has also opened an investigation into online booking websites Expedia and Booking.com, saying their agreements with hotels may prevent consumers from getting a better deal.
In a statement on Tuesday, the watchdog said it had received complaints about TripAdvisor from consumers as well as hotel and restaurant owners.
TripAdvisor is a travel website that gathers readers' reviews of hotels and restaurants. The authority said in a separate document on its website that TripAdvisor may have published opinions of people who had not actually been to the places they rated.
It also said TripAdvisor did not make clear enough the distinction between information provided independently by travelers and business profiles that hotels and restaurants pay to get published on the website.
The company did not immediately reply to a request for a comment.
The watchdog also gave details of its investigation into Expedia and Booking.com in a statement on Monday.
"The analysis centers on clauses applied by Booking and Expedia that prevent hotels from offering better prices and conditions through other online services and, generally, any other booking system (including hotels' own websites)," it said.
"The authority believes the use of such clauses by the main two platforms on the market may significantly limit competition."
The watchdog said it would conclude the investigation by August 2015.
The Priceline Group, which owns Booking.com, had no immediate comment. Expedia did not immediately return a request for a comment.
(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Mark Potter)