A startup which has been threatened with legal action by hotel price comparison site Booking.com has branded the website's behavior towards hotels as "threatening" and accused them of "overstepping the mark".
British startup Triptease provides a tool for hotel websites that allows the hotel to show consumers its own price if they book directly with them versus the prices on comparison sites like Booking.com, Expedia, or Hotels.com. The aim, according to co-founder Charlie Osmond, is to boost the number of people booking directly through hotel websites.
"When consumers see the prices on hotel sites, 20 to 30 percent more consumers will book on the hotel site, because people want that direct relationship and they know that the hotels prefer guests who book directly," Osmond told CNBC in a TV interview on Wednesday.
But its tool has put them at loggerheads with Booking.com as often, Triptease will show that the price for booking via a hotel's website is cheaper than a price comparison website.
As a result, Booking.com has threatened legal action against the startup.
A letter has been leaked online, which Booking.com allegedly sent to hotels that use its website, but also use Triptease's tool.
"We believe that TripTease is unlawfully accessing Booking.com's data in order to collate the Booking.com information shown by the widget. Moreover, we wanted to make you aware that the Booking.com price and availability information shown by the widget is often misleading, inaccurate and misrepresents the prices and availability being offered for rooms at your hotel on Booking.com," the letter alleged.
"If you are providing us with the correct prices, it may be that the widget is simply not capable of making the correct price comparison and is therefore failing to show an accurate price for the comparable reservation with Booking.com. Nevertheless, by displaying any such inaccurate prices on your website, you are engaging in the misleading comparative advertising practices referred to above."