Sunday, 26 May 2019

Major hotel booking sites come under fire

I frequently use hotel booking sites when I need a quick night somewhere and want some choice. 

But the major hotel booking sites are still skewing search results, using pressure tactics and claiming false discounts despite a major clampdown, according to new Which? research reported by TravelMole.

In February, the British Competition and Markets Authority accused Expedia, Booking.com, Trivago, Hotels.com, Agoda and Ebookers of using unfair practices and ordered them to stop using measures that could mislead customers.

They were given until September to comply, but an investigation by Which? has found that sites are still using tactics to pressurise customers, including not displaying full costs upfront, giving a false impression of a room's popularity and dishonestly claiming that rooms are discounted.

For example, Trivago's site advertised a deal with Expedia for the Paris's Millesime hotel for £244 in February, which it claimed was a saving of 63%, but this was only compared with the most expensive price on another site, not the average, said Which? 

When its researcher clicked through, the 'pricier' site was actually offering the same room for £240 - £4 cheaper than Expedia.

Trivago also has really annoying TV ads
Pressure tactics such as "one room left at this price" and "booked four times in the last 24 hours" can manipulate customers into parting with their cash quickly by giving the impression that the offer is time-limited, Which? reported.

The consumer organisation said 44% of its members agreed that seeing the prompt "only one room left on our site" would influence their decision to book.

In some cases, however, Which? found that these claims were bogus. For example, when Booking.com was advertising 'the last' double room with private external bathroom at the Balmore Guest House in Edinburgh, Which? reported there were another seven doubles available with en suites at the same price.

Buyer beware. And consider booking direct with hotels to get the best deals. 

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