The UK competition watchdog is to investigate hotel booking sites as consumers are being misled, pressured and prevented from finding the best deals.
The Competition and Markets Authority said it would look into whether sites use pressure tactics to rush customers into booking rooms, and whether they push hotels based on the commission they receive, which could constitute a violation of consumer law.
Around 70% of people who searched for hotels last year used booking sites, including Trivago, booking.com, Expedia and Late Rooms. The AMC said consumers need to be sure they’re getting the best deal.
“Sites need to give their customers information that is clear, accurate and presented in a way that allows people to choose the best deal for them,” said CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli. “But we are concerned that this is not happening and that the information on the sites is actually making it difficult for people to make the right choice.
“That’s why we’ve started our investigation into this sector – to get to the bottom of these issues, see if sites are infringing consumer law, and make sure they’re helping, not hindering, people looking of their next hotel room.”
The CMA will investigate whether sites attempt to trick customers into making a decision by creating a false impression of room availability, indicating how many rooms are left or how long a price is available.
Other areas of concern include sites potentially directing customers to hotels based on the amount of commission they earn on a booking, and hidden charges such as taxes and booking fees that might not be revealed. only at the end of the process.
The CMA has written to companies across the sector asking for information about their practices and wants to hear from consumers about their experiences.