In Rosturizm on Monday, May 21, received a letter from the Ministry of Culture with the instruction "to consider a proposal to ban the activities of Booking.com on the territory of the Russian Federation." This was reported to RBC in the press service of Rosturizm. To present its position on this issue Rosturizm should be before June 4, 2018.
"We consider it necessary to seek the opinion of the relevant professional public associations regarding this proposal, in connection with which they will be promptly sent an appropriate request," the representative of Rosturizia told RBC.
The commission was given by the Department of Tourism and Regional Policy of the Ministry of Culture, follows from a letter of the ministry, which RBC acquainted. The press service of the Ministry of Culture did not respond to the request of RBC.
The fact that such an order exists exists was first reported by the industry publication "Turprom". The initiative to limit the work of the hotel reservation service in Russia in response to anti-Russian sanctions was earlier made by the head of the tour operator "Svoy TS" Sergei Voitovich. He sent his open letter to the Ministry of Culture in April.
As explained by Voitovich in an interview with RBC, the restriction is proposed for booking through Booking.com only Russian hotels and only for customers located within the country. Restriction on the idea of the head of "Own Vehicle" should not apply to booking outside Russia - Russian customers Booking.com will be able to continue booking hotels in other countries, just like customers in other countries will be able to book hotels in Russia.
Service Booking.сom is actually engaged in tour operator activity in Russia (it offers hotels, air tickets, transfers), but it is not legally a tour operator and does not pay the corresponding fees, Voytovich emphasizes. According to him, the company is the only sales channel for many Russian hotels and has the opportunity to store and analyze tourist data. Service occupies a dominant position in the market - according to the head of "Svoy TS", the share of Booking.com accounts for 60-70% of individual sales in hotels in Russia. "No Russian tour operator can compare with Booking.com, because they have limited agreements with major international network hotels - Accor, Rezidor and Radisson," complains Voitovich. - The Russian tour operator does not enter into such an agreement and will receive much worse conditions. Therefore Booking.com now and for many years ahead will dominate the market. " At the same time Booking.com, not being officially a tour operator, may not react to the controlling bodies of the Federal Service for Consumer Rights and Consumer Protection in case of complaints from consumers, RBC's interlocutor adds.
Direct sales are more profitable for hotels, and they are trying to increase them, but they can not fill the hotels all year round with their own efforts, says Svetlana Astafieva, general director of the management company "Turris" (among the assets - four hotels in St. Petersburg, the Crimea and Finland). At "Turris" tour operators occupy up to 15% in the volume of booking, Booking - up to 10%. "Booking.com is a quality operator that you know, and if it goes away, then the question is, will there be a similar quality system? - said Astafyeva. "We understand that if Booking.com is limited, it is not because of complaints from tour operators, but for external reasons."
In the Russian Union of Travel Industry does not believe that special restrictions are required for Booking.com. But, the president of the union Sergey Shpilko, the hotel services market should be adjusted in terms of the parity of responsibility of offline and online operators to consumers of hotel services. There are questions, says Shpilko, and to Booking.com - this company is indeed a major player in the world and in the domestic hotel markets, and now its commission reaches about 18%, which is comparable with the reward of a large tour operator. "As the market share increases, the size of the Booking.com commission will most likely increase, we are interested in the Russian market of hotel services being competitive," adds the president of the Russian Union of Travel Industry.
Service Booking.com was founded in Amsterdam in 1996, provides online booking services for hotels worldwide and is owned by US Booking Holdings.
Booking.com, according to SimilarWeb in April 2018, ranks 79th in the global ranking of sites and 67th among Russian users. In April, 420.5 million calls from stationary computers and laptops were recorded on Booking.com. The largest traffic - 7.49% - provided by Russia. But its separation from other countries is not great - Russia is followed by the United States with 6.85% of all visits.