June 14, 2024

Booking.com has joined the ranks of tech giants, such as Google and Meta, that fall under the EU’s sweeping online competition rules.

Dubbed the Digital Markets Act (DMA), the law aims to establish a level digital playing field by setting clear rights and obligations for large online platforms, referred to as “gatekeepers.” The goal is to tackle monopolising practices.

“Booking is an important player in the European tourism ecosystem and is now also a designated gatekeeper,” said Thierry Bretton, EU Commissioner for Internal Market.

The European Commission designates as gatekeepers companies with over 45 million monthly end users within the block, more than 10,000 business users per year, and a market cap of at least €75bn.

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“We anticipated today’s decision.

The addition of Booking to the list followed the Dutch company’s self-assessment, submitted on March 1. The Commission determined that the travel platform meets the DMA thresholds and constitutes an “important gateway between businesses and consumers.”

Six months to comply

Much like the other gatekeepers, Booking.com now has six months to comply with the DMA’s list of don’ts.

The obligations include the ban of targeted advertising outside of the gatekeeper’s core platform. They also call for for non-discrimination practices against business users who wish to offer their services elsewhere at different conditions or prices.

A number of obligations apply effective immediately, such as the rule to inform the Commission of “any intended concentration” in the digital sector.

If Booking fails to comply, it risks facing fines of up to 10% of its total worldwide turnover. In case of repeated breaches, fines can go up to 20%, while the EU has the power to force the platform to sell parts of its business.

“We have been working with the European Commission for some time as we anticipated today’s decision,” a Booking.com spokesperson said via email.

“We are reviewing their designation decision now and will continue to work constructively with them as we develop solutions to comply.”

Founded in 1996 in Amsterdam, Booking.com transformed the travel accommodation industry.

The company says that it offers 28 million accommodation listings across the globe and estimates that its active end users in the EU have exceeded 45 million during the period between August 2023 and January 2024. Its current market cap stands at $127.05bn (€117.7bn).

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