The Strategist

Hotel booking sites are caught in lies

02/07/2019 - 11:20

The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has obliged a number of the largest and most popular online hotel booking sites, including Expedia,, Agoda,, ebookers and trivago, to change their working methods and not mislead consumers. According to the authorities, the aggregators regularly concealed additional charges, did not explain principles for evaluating hotels and providing discounts, etc.

pandemia via flickr
pandemia via flickr
The CMA demanded that online hotel reservation services change business practices after conducting extensive inspections in this market. It was launched in June 2018 after detection of numerous cases of consumer misleading.
So, for example, when a client selected a hotel room through one of the aggregators, a notification appeared on the screen that at the moment several other people are interested in the same number, although not necessarily other customers chose the same booking dates.
In addition, online booking services could mislead consumers about discounts, comparing price of a suite and a regular number, etc. Often, the aggregators did not indicate final price of the room with all taxes, booking fees and in some cases a resort fee.
Following a discussion with the British regulator of the violations found, the online booking services pledged to:
Do not put pressure on customers, convincing them of high demand 
Do not display already booked rooms in search
Immediately indicate full room rate with all taxes and fees
Clearly and affordably inform about possible discounts, provide information on principles of valuation of hotels.
The CMA notes that not all of these services are guilty of the violations listed. But until September 1, all of them have to change their business practices in order to rule out possible violations. If this is not done on time, the British regulator will go to court.
In the near future, the CMA intends to turn to other online booking services to remind them of the need to comply with the law on consumer protection and urge them to also correct possible violations before September 1.