Published on Friday, October 27, 2017

Competition watchdog to investigate hotel booking sites

Competition officials have launched an investigation today into whether hotel booking sites are misleading customers and breaking consumer law.

The Competition and Markets Authority wants to examine whether hotels are ranked according to a customer's search or if other factors are at play, such as the level of commission a hotel pays the site.

The investigation will also look at the use of pressure selling to see if sites are rushing customers into making a booking by telling them how many rooms are left or how many other people are looking at the same property. It is also concerned that sites are creating a false impression of availability.

Discount claims will also be under the spotlight, as the CMA wants to know if sites are wrongly basing discounts on higher prices that were only available for a brief period, or are not relevant to the customer's search criteria.

Finally, the investigation will look at hidden charges and whether customers are faced with unexpected fees, such as taxes or booking fees, at a later stage in the booking.

The~CMA~has today written to companies across the whole sector requiring information to understand more about their practices.

It is also calling on people that use them and hotels that advertise with them.

It is threatening enforcement action if it finds any sites are breaking consumer law.

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: "Around 70% of people who shopped around for hotels last year used these sites and they should all be confident they have chosen the best accommodation for their needs and are getting a good deal.

"In today's increasingly busy world, sites like this offer real potential to help holiday-makers save time and money searching for their ideal get-away.

"To do this, sites need to give their customers information that is clear, accurate and presented in a way that enables people to choose the best deal for them. But we are concerned that this is not happening and that the information on sites may in fact be making it difficult for people to make the right choice."

Commenting on the investigation, ABTA said it has always advocated price transparency and providing accurate information for consumers.

"The law requires companies to include all non-optional charges in their headline price so that customers are not hit with unexpected charges," it said.

"Our Code of Conduct reflects this and it is important that the same rules apply across the industry to ensure a fair and level playing field for all travel companies."

Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services for consumer magazine Which?, said: "We found evidence of booking sites using pressure selling tactics and making claims about discount deals that don't add up. If the CMA finds breaches of consumer law, they should take enforcement action against those sites."

Story Image

Your Comments

, be the first to post a comment.
Your email:

Email other comments made to this story

NOTE: Comments are subject to admin approval before being posted.
  • Not always best price

    I've looked at these sites only twice in the past 2 years, both times when I then called the hotels direct, a lower price was quoted, both included breakfast which wasn't offered on the comparison sites, I'm sure that's not always the case but personally, I don't trust any of them. Do your own research, don't always rely on these sites.

    By Keith Standen, Friday, October 27, 2017

Mole Poll
2019 ABTA Travel Convention in Japan - Good Idea ?
YES 49.43 %
NO 50.57 %

Thank you for your vote

Move scroll bar (above) left to right for more videos!

Sponsored features

Wow, it's a game changer!

Welcome to the world of Stuba!

Stuba is the unified brand following the merger of getabed and roomsXML. is a brand new website, showcasing the very best product and technology  from the combined business