Online hotel reservation sites do not offer the bargain prices claimed in their glossy TV advertisements.
According to a study by Which?
Websites like Booking.com and Expedia claim to research all available deals from a range of hotel options to provide the cheapest rooms.
Online hotel booking sites do not offer the bargain prices claimed in their glossy TV ads, according to a Which? found
But the consumer group said the commission taken from booking sites tends to drive up prices rather than getting bargains.
The organization has said the way specialist online hotel and travel booking websites operate in the UK is rigged against consumers.
In Britain, they impose “parity clauses”, which do not allow hotels to offer lower prices when selling rooms to the public through their own site.
However, this does not prevent hotels from offering a lower price if a guest contacts them directly by phone or email.
The biggest saving by going direct was 12 over the cost listed on Booking.com – a saving of £ 20 – plus a free upgrade.
Many independent hoteliers don’t appreciate the power of big booking sites – and the fees they charge. However, they feel that they have no choice but to use them.
Which? said: “Online travel agents (OTAs) are often considered the most convenient way to get the best price on a hotel room, with many comparing the cost of hotel rooms on different websites under the promise to allow the customer to find the best deal.
“However, when we contacted 10 hotels to ask if they could offer a better deal than that offered by an OTA or on their own website, eight were able to offer a better price or other incentives like only free breakfasts or upgrades.
A table showing the prices of 10 hotels across the UK on Booking.com versus which prices? researchers were proposed by contacting them directly
A letter, seen by whom? Travel, from Booking.com to a B&B owner warned them against offering cheaper rates on their own website
HOW TO GET THE BEST ROOM RATE
Find a hotel on an online reservation site.
Google the name of the property (watch out for advertisements from hotel booking sites that hijack search results – scroll down to find the official site).
Send an email or, better yet, call the hotel directly.
Quote the price of the online booking site and ask if it can be improved.
Calculate 15 to 25 percent of the rate. This is the potential savings for the hotelier and an indicator of room for maneuver.
“OTAs charge hefty commission levels – typically 15-25% – on every booking, which hotels, especially small properties like family B & Bs, often have to pass on to guests.”
Which? added that hotel price parity clauses have been banned in France, Italy and Austria for obstructing competition.
However, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has chosen not to follow suit in a recent review of the hotel reservation industry.
The consumer champion said a small B&B owner told them online travel agents were so dominant that they “stole” from customers who might otherwise have made a direct booking.
A letter, seen by whom? Travel, from Booking.com to another B&B owner, warned them against offering cheaper rates on their own website.
It says, “By checking your property’s website, we found rates that were cheaper than those displayed on Booking.com.
“As we work with our partners, in good and fair relationships, we also aim to provide a great customer experience, which includes solid inventory and fair pricing.
“Having consistently lower rates on your property’s website can hurt that guest experience and impact your own performance on Booking.com. Over time, this could lead to decreased visibility and slower business growth.
“We kindly ask you to provide Booking.com with the same rates and conditions as your own website. “
The editor of Which? Travel, Rory Boland, said: “Customers should not be fooled into thinking that they are getting the best price on a hotel booking site when more often than not they can get a better deal by avoiding its commission and by booking directly with the hotel.
“Hotel reservation sites can be a good place to start your research, but you should always call or email the hotel to have the best chance of getting the cheapest deal – even in the cases where they can’t offer a better price, there’s a good chance they’ll throw in a giveaway or two.
Booking.com said, “Properties choose what prices they want displayed on Booking.com, which they can do at will and for free. Then Booking works hard to advertise their property to customers around the world.
Which? stated that the commission charged by booking sites tends to drive up prices rather than getting good deals
“If Booking can actually find them a client, then – and only then – the establishment pays a small amount in exchange for the service.”
Expedia added, “Over the past 20+ years, Expedia Group has helped hundreds of thousands of hoteliers compete for consumer affairs and provided market transparency, helping consumers experience these hotels quickly and efficiently. .
“We provide a global marketplace for chains and independent hotels to compete with their peers, making them visible and bookable to consumers around the world.
“Our goal is to ensure that the best rates and availability are presented to consumers in order to attract travelers to our sites to book with our partners.
“The ability to book packages with Expedia is a prime example, where many hotels and some airlines offer us special discounted rates. “