An investigation into possible breaches of competition law around online hotel bookings in the UK has been stepped up a gear by regulators this week.
The UK's Office of Fair Trading says the matter is an "administrative priority" and is now pursuing the investigation further after a preliminary review of evidence.
The probe was launched in September 2010 following a number of reports from hotel site Skoosh over what it claimed were unfair practices around room pricing.
Prior to the investigation being revealed, Skoosh said it had been contacted on a number of occasions by hoteliers ordering it to raise rates to those of other hotel sites such as Booking.com.
The OFT was due to report back in April 2011, but has now said the investigation will continue and will be gathering further evidence related to the issue.
Although the OFT has never outlined the exact scope of the investigation, Skoosh has claimed some credit for getting online hotel rates to be examined officially after confirming last year that it had been in talks with the regulator.
Booking.com parent company Priceline has refused to be drawn on the issue, claiming it is not aware of breaking any competition laws or that rate parity constitutes anticompetitive behaviour.
"It’s a free world and hotels can sign up or sign off with us as they wish," an official said last year.