Six of the biggest hotel booking websites have agreed to make changes designed to end misleading sales tactics.
It follows an investigation from the Competition Watchdog, and from September firms including Expedia, Hotels.com and Bookers will have to be clear about which hotels have paid them for higher rankings on their sites, in an attempt to end pressure selling.
Some of the biggest websites for booking hotels worldwide are giving customers mis-leading information and not giving people the best deals. The competition, Watchdog says these sites are advertising deals at ‘Special rates’, but they are not actually the best deals available on the market.
The Competition and Markets Authority says that claims on bookings sites like ‘Only 5 Remaining’ are not at all accurate and designed to entice customers into paying over the odds. The investigation found that these websites gave a false impression of how popular a room is and sometimes the full cost of the booking is misleading and not given up front.
The Competition and Markets Authority also say that customers are not aware that a hotels ranking on a booking site, depends on how much commission is paid to the site.
Rory Boland from Which spoke to the BBC and said: “ Discounts and deals are meant to tempt us. But they are almost certainly not a discount or a deal. You can find a much better price if you phone the hotel directly tell them the price that you found with the online travel agents and they will match it, beat it and throw something in for free”.
As a result of the investigation, Booking.com says it has agreed to make changes to make sure it’s website is transparent enough for consumers. Expedia says it has been working with the Competition Watchdog to improve standards across the industry.
The Competition and Markets Authority says the six biggest booking sites have agreed to work with them to tighten up the level of consumer standards but that not all booking sites were guilty of misleading their customers.
How to get the best hotel deals
Staying in a nice hotel doesn’t have to cost the earth. Some tips include booking a room at a newly opened hotel, checking in nearer the end of the day and booking your hotel and flights together. This list could help you save money when planning your next getaway.
Look at business hotels: Business hotels can often be slow during the summer months and at weekends, this can lead to some great deals.
Check in near the end of the day: If your looking for a last minute deal this is a great way to snag a bargain, hotels have a better sense of occupancy later in the day and they are more likely to offer you a deal.
Call the hotel directly: Instead of scrawling through endless booking sites, find a few hotels you like the look of and call them directly. If you book through them directly they won’t have to pay the booking site a commission and are more likely to offer you a deal.
Book your flight and hotel together: Booking your flight and hotel together can sometimes save you money and can often save on both the flight and accommodation.
Sign up to a hotel’s loyalty program: Many hotel chains reward you for your loyalty, you can collect points to use against your next stay. In addition, they can also offer additional extras and freebies.
Look for new hotels: Booking at a newly opened hotel can sometimes lead to discounts. The hotel will be looking to increase business and get the word out, this could lead to lower rates or cheaper upgrades.