In blocking’s merger, Europe starts to worry about bigness

September 26, 2023

US-based is almost inescapable on Google, and familiar to most people who book hotels online: it has a market share of over 60 percent in the €100 billion European market for what regulators call “online travel agencies [OTAs],” giving it immense power to steer consumers and business partners to prefer its services over rivals’.

Booking’s ambition has been to become a digital platform, a one-stop shop for consumers organising trips, not just for hotels, but for flights, car rentals, transport and more. The company has been on a shopping spree, buying rivals in ways that not only help it expand the range of services it can provide – but also eliminate competitors.

But it just hit a big speed bump, with a welcome announcement from the European Commission that it will block Booking’s attempt to buy eTraveli, a Swedish online travel agency that specialises in selling flights.

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