Officials in Austria have moved to introduce legislation that will prevent online travel agencies from demanding hotels only offer rates at the same or higher price.
Parity clauses have existed between a number of the major online travel agencies and hotel groups in a bid to ensure they can claim the lowest price will always be available on the intermediary's website.
The Austrian government has submitted a change to the existing legislation to parliament that will outlaw the practice.
It follows similar attempts on a crackdown in other markets in Europe (France and Germany in 2015, UK in 2013).
Austrian vice-chancellor, Reinhold Mitterlehner, says:
"At issue is that companies do not have to offer the same price as they currently do on the (online) platform but have the opportunity to make other arrangements, which increases hoteliers' room for maneuver."
Booking.com, the hotel giant that has been on the receiving end of criticism from various regulators around the continent, says outlawing the clauses could create more problems than it solves.
The Priceline Group-owned company's managing director for EMEA, Peter Verhoeven, argues:
"If you want to be sure to get the cheapest hotel price you would be forced to comb through countless homepages to in the end only be able to compare a fraction of the possible offers."
NB:Hotel money image via BigStock.