Many agencies and online platforms get hotels to sign contracts that stop them offering prices lower than those offered by the agency or platform. From 1 December 2022, it will no longer possible to legally enforce these arrangements as they will be deemed an unfair trading practice.
On 16 November 2022, the Federal Council brought new regulations into effect aimed at ensuring that Swiss hotels are able to freely set their prices and offers regardless of any contracts they may have signed.
The new ban enables hotels to promote direct sales via their own websites and lower prices to strengthen their competitiveness. Platforms charge commissions so hotels can generate higher margins on direct sales.
In addition, consumers planning holidays in Switzerland could soon benefit from developing a reflex to check hotel websites to see if they can find a lower price than the one displayed on travel agency websites.
Neighbouring countries have already introduced bans on these anti-competitive contract clauses so allowing the practice to continue in Switzerland would have left Swiss hotels at a disadvantage, said the government.
The legal change affects civil law so transgressions will not come with criminal penalties. However, such clauses will be deemed anti-competitive and unenforceable and therefore more easily challenged in court.