Four hotels fined $1.5m for anti-competitive behaviour
They shared commercially sensitive data on room rates for corporate customers
For almost five years, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) investigated more than 30 hotels for allegedly exchanging commercially sensitive data regarding hotel room rates for corporate customers.
This would have given these hotels an unfair advantage over competitors, said the CCCS.
Three years into investigations, it had identified four hotels over this infringement after making numerous site visits to some of these establishments.
By August last year, it had completed its investigations and had gathered enough evidence to slap fines totalling $1.5 million on the four guilty parties.
Yesterday, the CCCS sent out a press statement identifying the four hotels, their owners and their financial penalties.
The hotels guilty of infringing the Competition Act are Capri by Fraser Changi City Singapore, Village Hotel Changi, Village Hotel Katong and Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.
The investigation revealed that the sales representatives of Capri exchanged commercially sensitive information relating to its corporate customers with Crowne Plaza and Village Hotels.
CCCS told The New Paper it began its investigation into the hospitality sector in November 2013. It initially covered more than 30 hotels' owners/operators.
By June 2016, it had narrowed its focus on the exchange of commercially sensitive information relating to the provision of hotel room accommodation to corporate customers.
A CCCS spokesman told TNP the investigation was triggered by its own detection efforts.
The spokesman added: "We completed investigations into the... infringing conduct of Capri and Village Hotels and Capri and Crowne Plaza and issued a proposed infringement decision in August 2018."
The hotels are all located in the east of Singapore.
The CCCS had found WhatsApp conversations between sales representatives of Capri and Village Hotels, and Capri and Crowne Plaza comparing and fixing hotel room rates for specific customers.
CCCS said the exchange of commercially sensitive information relating to corporate customers is likely to have influenced the hotels' strategies when negotiating with corporate customers.
Following the investigations last year, CCCS sent each party a notice of its proposed infringement decision.
Mr Toh Han Li, CCCS' chief executive, said the exchange of non-public commercially sensitive information between competitors is harmful to competition and customers in the market.
This is because it reduces the competitive pressures faced by competitors in determining their commercial decisions, including the price they will offer to customers.
He added: "This can result in customers having less competitive prices and options after such exchanges.
"If a business receives such information from its competitor, it should immediately and clearly distance itself from such conduct and report it to CCCS."
Breakdown of penalties
Ascendas Frasers, which used to own Capri by Fraser Changi City Singapore (right), and operator Frasers Hospitality
Frasers Hospitality and Frasers Hospitality Trustee, which currently own Capri by Fraser Changi City Singapore
Far East Organisation Centre, which owns Village Hotel Changi (right), and Orchard Mall, which owns Village Hotel Katong (far right). Far East Hospitality Management is the appointed agent for both hotels.
OUE Airport Hotel, which owns Crowne Plaza Changi Airport (right). The hotel is managed by Inter-Continental Hotels (Singapore).