Crackdown on 'misleading' hotel booking sites
Some of the biggest online hotel booking sites have made a formal commitment to ‘change their ways’ following a probe from the government’s Competition and Markets Authority.
Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, ebookers and trivago have been the subject of CMA enforcement action due to serious concerns around issues like pressure selling, misleading discount claims, the effect that commission has on how hotels are ordered on sites, and hidden charges.
The hotels websites have voluntarily committed to make it clearer how hotels are ranked after a customer has entered their search requirements, for example telling people when search results have been affected by the amount of commission a hotel pays the site.
They will also stop giving false impression of the availability or popularity of a hotel or rushing customers into making a booking decision based on incomplete information.
The CMA said it witnesses some sites strategically placing sold out hotels within search results to put pressure on people to book more quickly.
The websites will also make discounts clearer and display all compulsory charges such as taxes, booking or resort fees in the headline price.
"Six websites have already given firm undertakings not to engage in these practices,” said CMA chairman Andrew Tyrie.
“They are some of the largest hotel booking sites. The CMA will now do whatever it can to ensure that the rest of the sector meets the same standards."
The CMA said it will monitor compliance with the commitments made by the booking sites, which must be completed by 1st September 2019 before taking further action.