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Fake hotel booking sites attract 15 million travelers a year, group says

About 6% of American travelers – 15 million people – are tricked every year into thinking they book a room directly through a hotel’s website, but instead make reservations through a “rogue” third-party site. “.

That’s one of the findings of a survey by the American Hotel & Lodging Assn., which warned travelers to be on the lookout for online hotel booking scams.

“These results clearly show that online hotel booking scams have eroded consumer trust among third-party providers,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the accommodation association.

The survey of over 1,000 adults found that 6% of respondents said they had made hotel reservations thinking they were booking directly with a hotel, but later discovered they had connected to a third-party site.

When travelers don’t book directly with a hotel, they may not get the room they reserved, be charged hidden fees, fail to earn loyalty points and have their identity stolen, according to the hotel association.

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Hotels benefit from direct bookings because they avoid paying commissions for bookings made through third-party websites.

The American Society of Travel Agents, which includes online agents and those working in physical offices, played down the danger, saying travelers who book through members of the trade group can expect service professional.

“The expertise, knowledge and wisdom of our members help ensure that consumers avoid the worries and adverse experiences they might otherwise face,” the group said in a statement.

For more on travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.

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