It's 2019. Online travel agencies and hotels shouldn't still be using high-pressure tactics to get us to part with our money. There are much better ways. Hopefully the UK's action will spur other countries to do the same.
The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority back in February managed to get a handful of brands owned by Expedia Group and Booking Holdings to change how they displayed information to consumers searching for accommodation online.
Essentially it was concerned about hate-selling through techniques such as hidden charges, and ordered them to sort it out.
The companies involved — Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, Ebookers, and Trivago — all “voluntarily agreed” to make the changes and now the competition regulator has added a host of others.
A further 25 online hotel and other online booking platforms, including Airbnb and TripAdvisor and Marriott, have signed up to abide by consumer protection law principles outlined in a 14-page document. These include: the failure to disclose the effect of payments on search results and misleading popularity and availability statements.
Most have already made any necessary changes but Accor, IHG, Hilton, Marriott, Radisson Hotel Group, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts have requested more time to work on technical updates.
The regulator wants to take its approach global and is currently co-leading an international project with other consumer enforcement agencies.
“Major websites and big hotel chains have agreed to clean up their act if they’ve been using misleading sales tactics, and have signed up to sector-wide consumer law principles on how to display important information to customers,” said CEO Andrea Coscelli.
Ominously, Coscelli added that the regulator would “now be watching to make sure that these major brands… stay true to their word” and would “take action” if not.
It’s worth noting that not all the firms on the list engaged in the questionable practices but all have agreed to abide by the new rules.
Full List of Companies Involved
- Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Great Britain
- InterContinental Hotels Group
- LateRooms (no longer operating)
- On the Beach
- Premier Inn
- Radisson Hotel Group
- Travel Republic
- Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
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Photo Credit: Looking downwards from the top of the stairwell at the Hotel Molière, Paris. The UK competition regulator has got online travel agencies and hotel companies to change how they display information. joanne clifford / Flickr
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