It’s convenient, fast, immediate. Often there are offers that seem convenient to us. And that’s why everyone knows and uses it. But what is behind its operation? Is it right to use it? Booking, along with the other Online Travel Agencies (OTAs), is now a giant of tourism market and its market with that of Expedia and TripAdvisor could reach 2 trillion dollars in 2026.
Booking’s reservation system is based on two different models. The first is that which provides that the OTA acts as an intermediary between the accommodation and the client, placing the offers on its own platform. In this case, Booking asks the operator for a commission for every single reservation that can go between 18 and 25%. Marco Michiello, president of Federalberghi Veneto, reports however that there are even higher commissions, which would allow hotels to obtain greater visibility. The second model, on the other hand, provides for Booking to purchase a certain number of nights in advance, in exchange for a payment of a share, often 75%, of the final price.
In both cases, OTAs asks very high commissions to the accommodation facilities, and this commissions represent billions of euros of damage at European level. If it is true that hoteliers gain visibility and a pool of potential customers otherwise impossible, it is also true that operators are now virtually forced to sign these contracts, since online agencies control a huge part of the market and being out of them means substantially to be unobtainable. Moreover, until recently it was imposed the prohibition of proposing different prices from those present on Booking and if now the accommodations are free to offer lower prices, it is now the custom of customers to book directly from the sites of the OTAs, without even checking the presence of cheaper nights on the official website of the hotel.
But does Booking pay taxes?
The small hoteliers are certainly the most affected by these multinationals, but they are not the only ones. Something is wrong also at the fiscal level. Booking is based in the Netherlands and it is there that it pays most of the taxes, despite being present in 227 countries with over 28 million accommodations. According to an estimate by Report, Booking collects 800 million euros in Italy, but pays 4.8 million in taxes, only 0.6 percent. And so the whole country (and with Italy all the others) is damaged.