It’s a slow, hard day, right, just two or three days before Christmas, depending on where you are and how you’re counting.

But we all have obligations, and mine is to file the final TTNews for 2014. So what’s news? Well for my money one of the year’s biggest stories has just begun unfolding.

It’s the decision by Booking.com to make concessions on its rate parity policy, which was essentially that hotels that sold through its site could not offer cheaper rates anywhere else.

Well, Booking.com now says it willing to tweak that policy after some European governments started taking a look at this unarguably restrictive business practice (prevalent among all Online Travel Agents).

To pre-empt legislative action, Booking.com, the world’s most successful OTA, says it will allow hotel partners to offer cheaper accommodation rates on other OTAs if they want.

But, crucially, Booking.com will not allow hotel partners to undercut it on their own websites.

European industry bodies have reacted badly to the announcement.

They forcefully argue that every supplier should have the right to price however they want wherever they want, especially on their own website.

And there’s a compelling logic to this argument that is, ironically, actually reinforced by the Booking.com offer.

It’s a political compromise and weaker for it – because it doesn’t go all the way.

This compromise shows regulators that the major online travel agents (and their lawyers) acknowledge there is an issue, perhaps legally indefensible.

No doubt they will take heart from that and press even harder.

Therefore the decision by Booking.com to open the door on rate parity may well mark the beginning of the end of this contentious practice.

But don’t hold your breath – it could take years.

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