Economy

Hotel booking sites face probe over concerns they could mislead

Hotel booking sites face probe over concerns they could mislead”

The UK's Competition and Markets Authority is set to probe hotel booking sites due to concerns that consumers are being misled and having a more hard time booking accommodation by these sites.

The CMA will examine practices such as how hotels are ranked after a customer has made a search - and to whether this is influenced by a commission paid by the hotel.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) claimed 70 per cent of people use booking sites when searching for hotels, and said it is "prepared to take enforcement action" against sites leaving holiday-makers with a bad deal.

Ufi Ibrahim, the chief executive of the BHA, said: "Many of our members have been concerned about the vast power of online booking agencies often charging high rates of commission, use of misleading information, pressure selling, and a lack of transparency".

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said around 70 percent of people looking for a hotel past year used the sites and they should all be confident they were getting a good deal. "Rather than helping consumers they may actually be making it more hard for them". But we are concerned this is not happening and that the information on sites may in fact be making it hard for people to make the right choice.

"In the process guests are paying more than they should for rooms".

The CMA has written to companies across the sector and will be speaking to customers about their experiences.

Whether people are later faced with unexpected fees, such as taxes or booking fees, after the initial search results are shown.

It will look at sites that allow you to book hotels, B&Bs and hostels.

Ms Arora said the CMA wanted to hear how the sites gathered the information for these claims.

The investigation will assess whether these sites pressure customers into booking too quickly by saying how many other people are looking at the room and how many rooms are available at a certain price.

The hotel comparison sites sector investigation, follows recent work by the CMA to look at auto hire comparison sites, and comparison sites more generally.

The CMA concluded that price comparison websites worked best for vehicle insurance and worst for broadband.



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