The competition and markets authority (CMA) are concerned about the way hotel comparison websites are processing their sites. They are concerned that instead of helping consumers make a choice, they are actually misleading them. However, no specific sites have yet been confirmed.
Out of the people last year who booked a holiday, 70% booked from a hotel comparison website. Showing the influence these sites have on consumers. The CMA say they are concerned about the clarity, accuracy and presentation on the sites. As most hotels pay a 15% commission to these sites. However, it is believed that some hotels are paying more so that these hotel booking sites can be shown at the top of search results instead of consumer preferences. Meaning they are showing hotels based on commercial consideration rather than consumer preference.
What are they going to investigate?
The watchdog say they are concerned about how the hotel comparison websites present the clarity, accuracy and presentation of the hotels. Therefore, they are going to investigate areas such as hidden charges, search results and discount claims and pressure selling.
The CMA will investigate the hidden charges within the site. This will include charges such as taxes and booking fees. The CMA believe that this is not shown clearly on the site, and as such may confuse consumers. Any additional charges should be shown clearly and be made known to the consumer.
Pressure selling is becoming more prominent to the hotel booking sites. These sites are showing consumers how many rooms are left in a hotel, and how many have looked at this hotel/room in the past 24hours.
Creating a false impression of room availability and therefore ‘rushing’ consumers into booking. The CMA believe this is pressuring consumers to purchase quickly. They would also like to know how the booking sites gather this information, and whether it is being done ethically or not.
The watchdog are ultimately investigating whether these sites are breaking consumer law and to make sure they are helping consumers decisions not hindering them. Keep up to date with our news to see whether these sites are operating correctly.