Price dispersion across online platforms: evidence from hotel room prices in London (UK)

Debashrita Mohapatra, Debi Prasad Mohapatra, Ram Sewak Dubey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper studies the widespread price dispersion of homogeneous products across different online platforms, even when consumers can easily access price information from comparison websites. We collect data for the 200 most popular hotels in London (UK) and document that prices vary widely across booking sites while making reservations for a hotel room. Additionally, we find that prices listed across different platforms tend to converge as the booking date gets closer to the date of stay. However, the price dispersion persists until the date of stay, implying that the law of one price does not hold. We present a simple theoretical model to explain this and show that in the presence of aggregate demand uncertainty and capacity constraints, price dispersion could exist even when products are homogeneous, consumers are homogeneous, all agents have perfect information about the market structure, and consumers face no search costs to acquire information about the products. Our theoretical intuition and robust empirical evidence provide additional insights into price dispersion across online platforms in different institutional settings. Our study complements the existing literature that relies on consumer search costs to explain the price dispersion phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Economics
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • hotel booking
  • law of one price
  • online platforms
  • Price dispersion

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