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Hospitality industry’s new fear: Being left out in Google’s search changes

Google and five other tech giants are subject to a list of dos and don'ts under the European Union's Digital Markets Act

Lobbying groups representing hotels, airlines, and retailers have pushed European Union tech regulators to make sure that Google considers the opinions of its customers as well as those of big middlemen when implementing changes to comply with historic tech regulations.

In March 2024, a number of organisations, including Independent Retail Europe, EuroCommerce, Ecommerce Europe, Hotel Group Hotrec, European Hotel Forum, and Airlines for Europe, which includes members like Air France KLM and British Airways owner, voiced concerns about the potential effects of the new regulations.

Google and five other tech giants are subject to a list of dos and don’ts under the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA). The aim of the list is to give users more options and competitors a better chance to compete, but the groups expressed concern that the changes may negatively impact their revenue.

They expressed their concerns in a joint letter dated May 22 to European Union Industry Chief Thierry Breton and EU Antitrust Chief Margrethe Vestager, saying their concerns had grown since then.

“Our industries have serious concerns that currently considered solutions and requirements for implementing the Digital Markets Act could further increase discrimination,” they wrote, Reuters reported.

“Initial observations indicate that these changes risk severely depleting direct sales revenues of companies by giving more prominence to powerful online intermediaries due to the preferential treatment they would receive,” they said.

The Commission is currently looking into Google for potential Digital Markets Act breaches. There was no immediate response from Google, which claimed in a blog post from March 2024 that modifications to search results bring more traffic to big intermediaries and aggregators and less to lodging facilities, airlines, shops, and dining establishments, Reuters reported.

“We are concerned that the non-compliance investigation refers only to the need to treat third-party services in a fair and non-discriminatory manner, without any acknowledgement of European businesses that also offer their services on Google,” the groups noted.

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