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Source: Thailand Hotel News  Sep 16, 2019

Amoma, Online Hotel Booking Agency Bankrupts And Closes

Amoma, Online Hotel Booking Agency Bankrupts And Closes
Source: Thailand Hotel News  Sep 16, 2019
Amoma, an online hotel reservation agency has left its clients stranded after hotels stopped honoring reservations booked via its platform due to its failure to pay its bills. It has closed all operations and has filed for bankruptcy. On 14th Of September 2019, Amoma stopped taking bookings. It posted a message on its site blaming price-comparison sites for unfair business practices, claiming that these sites charge a price per click from hotel booking websites, and the more you pay, the better you’ll be placed in the search results. That means that the cheapest price won’t necessarily be shown first, hitting Amoma which had thrived from undercutting hoteliers prices.

Prior to its demise, Amoma was the world’s third largest online reservations platform. While the news is certainly problematic for those who have booked reservations with the site, it also begs the question: What is the future of online travel agencies? Now that Amoma is gone, there are few major OTA booking platforms left. Years of consolidation and heavy undercutting has left little room for any but the most aggressive of sites. What’s going to happen now that the pool is shrinking, with heavyweights like Priceline owning most of the market share?

While hoteliers may be pleased to hear about the downfall of Amoma, they’re nowhere near in the clear, sites like Amoma exist using third-party wholesale rooms to offer discounted rates, and now  has gotten in on the game with Booking.basic. Their goal is to offer the absolute lowest rate possible, even if that requires outsourcing. In essence, the online travel agency has just used the services of, well, another online travel agency.

Is this the future of OTAs? One site after another cannibalizing its sales in order to capture as much of the market as possible? What does that mean for profits, for competition, and for hotel chains themselves? Though hotels are already trying their hardest to steer guests away from these agencies, they’ll be hard-pressed to make a case if the big OTAs are offering rock-bottom, wholesale pricing,even at their own expense.

Amoma has ceased operations and filed for bankruptcy, according to a report by Spanish site Referente. Customers apparently will have lost both their money and reservations if they paid directly at Amoma.

Trustpilot, a site collecting consumer feedback, reported a flurry of messages from users this morning saying that hotels had denied their bookings because of payment problems. Amoma has been attempting to get TrustPilot to remove many of them for “inappropriate content.”

Amoma had suffered from negative publicity in the past from consumers. “Everyone knew this was going to happen,” said a leading hotelier. “The question was not will it happen but when. You can find hundreds of bad comments from consumers in forums on TripAdvisor.”

Prior to this, Amoma had been a long-standing partner of many online travel agencies, hotels and travel planning sites, including TripAdvisor. Many hotel critics alleged that Amoma misused wholesale rates not intended for public consumption by taking inventory that hotels had set aside to distribute via wholesalers to offline markets, such as travel agencies in ethnic communities, and re-purposing the discounted inventory for general public consumption on their site.

Amoma usually charged the full price directly when booking the room. Paying at the hotel or paying the hotel directly was usually not possible. Because of this, the hotels won’t keep these reservations. If you’re affected by this, contact your hotel and let them send you a confirmation, that your booking has been cancelled.

Afterward, you should contact your bank if you paid with a credit card or direct debit. It should be possible to request a chargeback because you didn’t or won’t receive what you paid for. You will, however, usually need a written confirmation that you’re reservation has been cancelled. If the hotel doesn’t send you this, this could take some weeks, but you’ll at least get your money back.

Not many Thai customers are expected to have been affected by the closure as compared to Europeans and Americans who mostly use its platforms.

Many industrial experts are expecting that as new OTA and cutthroat paltforms make their way online, others will also fall into the same faith as Amoma.