Daily Management Review

UK Watchdog Does A Close Examination Of Hotel Booking Sites


06/28/2018




The UK's competition watchdog has said the process of ranking and displaying rooms needs to be reviewed by hotel booking sites.
 
The Competition and Markets Authority said that misleading claims about discounts are possibly being made by some sites.
 
The authority is also examining whether a false picture about room availability is being given by these sites so that people are rushed into booking decisions.
 
There was no disclosure of the names of the sites that the CMA has been investigating.
 
Another issue highlighted by the CMA was the extent of influence of the commission that a hotel paid to these sites on the ranking of the hotels.
 
The investigations into online hotel booking sites was initiated by the CMA back in October. The agency said that "a range of sites" have been sent warning letters where the watchdog has demanded that the sites conduct a review of the policies to ensure that the rankings are free and fair and their practices also comply with consumer protection law.
 
According to the CMA, hotel booking sites are used by about 70% of people who shop around for accommodation.
 
"Booking sites can make it so much easier to choose your holiday, but only if people are able to trust them," said Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA.
 
"We are now demanding that sites think again about how they are presenting information to their customers and make sure they are complying with the law. Our next step is to take any necessary action - including through the courts if needed - to ensure people get a fair deal."
 
"Expedia Group continuously aims to deliver attractive travel options at affordable prices in transparent, clear and easy to understand ways, so that our customers can make informed travel choices. Expedia will continue to engage with the CMA on these consumer matters, as it continues its inquiries in the travel sector", said Expedia, one of the leading sites.
 
The CMA's announcement was welcomed by Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, a hoteliers’ association, and said that the measure would give "reassurance" to the customers.
 
A larger review of the commissions and charges that the booking sites place on hotels – leading to increased prices for consumers, also needs to be looked into, she added.
 
"This is another example of digital businesses stealing an unfair lead on honest, regulated operators whose first concern is to deliver good service to their customers," she said.
 
The sites which have been sent the warning letters by the watchdog has been asked to respond within the next few months.
 
Following the review, the sites have the choice of either providing a legally-binding commitment that they are going to change their polices and operations or place arguments in favour of their claims that the practices do not infringe or violate any law.
 
There can be unlimited fines in court for companies with whom the CMA disagrees.
 
(Source:www.bbc.com)






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