Hotels

Hotel booking giants agree to change their ways following investigation

A competition watchdog has secured a victory for UK holidaymakers, with some of the biggest online hotel booking sites committing to an overhaul of their practices.

Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, Ebookers and Trivago have been the subject of enforcement action by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) 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.

It is widely known that some of these tactics have also been used by booking sites in Australia for some time.

The CMA took action last year because it was concerned that practices such as giving a false impression of a room’s popularity or not displaying the full cost of a room upfront could mislead people, stop them finding the best deal and potentially break consumer protection law.

All companies under investigation by the CMA have co-operated with its work and voluntarily agreed to a number of changes, one of which is making it clearer how hotels are ranked in search results.

The companies have also committed to not giving a false impression of the availability or popularity of a hotel or rushing customers into making a booking decision based on incomplete information.

Being clearer about discounts and only promoting deals that are actually available at that time is another practice that the booking companies have agreed to honour.

Finally, companies have committed to displaying all compulsory charges such as taxes, booking or resort fees in the headline price. Sites can still break that price down, but the total amount the customer has to pay should always be shown upfront.

CMA chairman Andrew Tyrie said: “The CMA has taken enforcement action to bring to an end misleading sales tactics, hidden charges and other practices in the online hotel booking market. These have been wholly unacceptable.

“Six websites have already given firm undertakings not to engage in these practices. 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 competition watchdog noted that not all companies engaged in all of the practices cited above, but all have nonetheless agreed to abide by all the principles set out in the undertakings.

The CMA will now monitor compliance with the commitments made by the booking sites. All changes must be made by 1 September 2019 at the very latest, though the sites have already started making improvements.

Furthermore, the CMA will write to other hotel booking sites including online travel agents, metasearch engines and hotel chains setting out clear expectations for how they should be complying with consumer protection law.

The CMA also expects these sites to make necessary changes by 1 September. If it finds sufficient evidence that others could be breaking consumer protection law, the watchdog said it will consider taking further enforcement action.

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Wholesalers

Big fat wholesaler wrap

Happy Monday readers! Have we got a wholelotta wholesaler news for you! Not really, this wrap is quite short, we just wanted to use a pun.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Here’s why Japan is the best country for solo travellers

Whether you’re looking to go on a journey of self-discovery or just plain don’t like people, solo travel has a little something for everyone.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Barry Mayo talks home-based: “It’s the satisfaction of being in control of your time”

by Ali Coulton

Having completely lost control of our time for quite a while now, we’re considering a career change after reading this.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Incentive Alert: Win the ultimate LA trip

Put a nice full-stop on your week by giving yourself the opportunity to win a banger of a trip. Or just have a few cheeky wines like the rest of us.

Share

CommentComments

Hotels

Airbnb slams tourism council’s “one-size-fits-all” recommendations for short-stay sector

Can’t stand Airbnb? Do you wish it could just piss off out of the tourism industry forever? Well, this will surely help get your rage on.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

RESEARCH: A quarter of travel choices are made based on food

Similarly, the majority of Travel Weekly’s choices are also based on food. In fact, right now we’re deciding whether to finish another article or abandon ship and go get a kebab instead.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Virgin Voyages officially open bookings, announces private beach club

Tickets for Virgin’s much-anticipated ship, Scarlet Lady, are now on sale. We tried to convince our boss to buy us a ticket for ‘research purposes’ but he just laughed. We’re raking it as a maybe.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

More Jetstar drama as airline apologises for refusing to fly home disabled passenger

Another day and another negative incident involving Jetstar. In more positive news, Travel Weekly’s editor has just found a $2 coin under his desk.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Mystery recipient of phone call by MH370 pilot revealed

As recent research points to a new possible crash site for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, another mystery surrounding the incident has now been solved.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Dream Cruises celebrates launch of Explorer Dream with roadshows

The celebrations kicked off in Sydney on Thursday night. Please excuse us for filing this story a day late – we’re still recovering from all the champagne we drank on the night.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Airbus to cease production of A380 superjumbo jet

by Ali Coulton

The announcement signals the end of an era for the aviation industry. We’ll be raising a tearful glass to the ‘giant of the skies’ at knock-off drinks this afternoon.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Flavour of the week

Break out the welcome cupcakes and spring for some Nescafé Gold. It’s time to welcome the industry’s latest recruits.

Share

CommentComments