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Fri 31st Jan 2014 - Breaking News - OFT clears way for discounts on hotel rooms
OFT clears way for discounts on hotel rooms: The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has accepted formal commitments from two of the UK’s largest online travel agents, Booking.com B.V. (Booking.com) and Expedia Inc (Expedia), together with InterContinental Hotels Group plc (IHG), which will enable online travel agents (OTAs) and hotels to offer discounts on rates for hotel rooms. The commitments mean that all OTAs and hotels that deal with these three businesses will be able to offer discounts off headline room-only rates so long as customers: sign up to the membership scheme of an OTA or hotel to be able to view specific discounts; and make one undiscounted booking with the OTA or hotel in question to be eligible for future discounts. The discounts offered by OTAs will be funded through their commission or margins. The OFT’s investigation centred on competition concerns that Booking.com and Expedia each entered into separate agreements with IHG which restricted each OTA’s ability to discount the rates at which room-only hotel accommodation bookings are offered to consumers. The commitments address these concerns by allowing greater competition on price between OTAs, and also between OTAs and hotels. They should also enable new online agents to enter the market or expand by offering attractive discounts. Following acceptance of the commitments, the OFT has now closed its investigation. Ann Pope, senior director in the OFT’s services, infrastructure and public markets group, said: “The travel industry, fuelled by the internet, has seen significant changes in recent years, and we want to ensure those changes continue to work in consumers’ interests. That is why we are pleased to have secured this outcome which, by allowing OTAs and hotels to offer discounts, should increase competition and mean travellers across Europe can benefit from reductions on hotel accommodation throughout the UK. By shopping around, people can compare the different discounts offered by hotels and OTAs, and ensure they get the best deal.”

Domino’s appoints interim chief executive: Domino’s UK has appointed David Wild, currently the senior non-executive director of the company, as interim chief executive with immediate effect, acting in an executive capacity for a temporary period until two months after a new chief executive is appointed. Lance Batchelor, the current chief executive, will work alongside Wild to effect a handover until 16 March 2014 when he will leave Domino’s. Stephen Hemsley, non-executive chairman, will work with Wild, dedicating additional time as necessary during the interim period until a new chief executive is appointed to support to the business. In recognition of the temporary executive role for Wild, Michael Shallow will be reappointed the senior independent director with immediate effect. In addition, for the same reason, Wild will temporarily relinquish his role as chairman of the remuneration committee and John Hodson will reassume the role of chair of remuneration committee until further notice. The company added: “The Board are also delighted to confirm the appointment of Ebbe Jacobsen as a non-executive director with immediate effect. Ebbe is a Danish national living in Belgium who has wide experience of operating in Germany and other European countries, most recently with Delsey. He has been in retail all his life and has pan-EU retail knowledge with significant experience in franchising, multi-site and single brand retail. He pioneered the introduction of US fast food, Burger King, into the Nordics in 1975 and held the position of director and operating Partner when the franchise was sold in 1985. Other significant retail experience includes having been chief executive of IKEA in Germany, chief executive of Delsey and Habitat.” Stephen Hemsley said: “I am delighted that David has agreed to step in as interim chief executive whilst we continue our search for a permanent replacement. Since joining as a non-executive in November, he has quickly got to grips with the business and I look forward to working with him over the coming months as we continue to progress the Group’s exciting growth plans.”

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