(Adds comment from Expedia)
MILAN May 20 Italy's competition watchdog is
looking into TripAdvisor to see if the influential holiday
review website takes appropriate measures to avoid publishing
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
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
travellers and business profiles that hotels and restaurants pay
to get published on the website.
A TripAdvisor spokesman said the company took a tough stance
on fraud and had confidence in its systems and procedures. Every
review goes through a tracking system that uses complex
algorithms to spot patterns of activity, he added.
Then there is "a team of over 200 content specialists, who
manually investigate every review flagged for inspection by our
systems", the spokesman said.
"We also have strong penalties in place to deter fraudsters
and the very nature of our site allows for any inaccuracies to
be quickly rectified."
The Italian watchdog gave details of its investigation into
Expedia and Booking.com in a statement on Monday.
"The analysis centres 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
A spokeswoman for Expedia said on Wednesday the company had
been contacted by Italy's competition watchdog about so-called
"most favoured nation" clauses in its agreements with Italian
hotels, and would co-operate with the inquiry.
"Expedia is convinced it is acting in full compliance with
all applicable laws, offering value to both consumers and ...
more than 290,000 accommodation partners," she said.
The watchdog said it would conclude the investigation by
The Priceline Group, which owns Booking.com, had no
(Reporting by Valentina Za; Editing by Mark Potter and Pravin