Andrea Coscelli , Chief Executive of the CMA , said : “ Booking sites can make it so much easier to choose your holiday , but only if people are able to trust them . Holidaymakers must feel sure they ’ re getting the deal they expected , whether that ’ s securing the discount promised or receiving reliable information about availability of rooms . It ’ s also important that no one feels pressured by misleading statements into making a booking .
“ That ’ s why we ’ re now demanding that sites think again about how they ’ re presenting information to their customers and make sure they ’ re complying with the law . Our next step is to take any necessary action – including through the courts if needed – to ensure people get a fair deal .”
The CMA ’ s investigation was launched in October , and covers concerns raised by the Bed & Breakfast Association to the CMA last July and in a meeting with CMA officials in September . Those concerns were featured in Hospitality Today ’ s Summer 2017 issue (“ OTAs : an ‘ abusive relationship ’, or ‘ the hand that feeds ’?”, p18-21 ).
A B & B Association spokesman commented : “ The Bed & Breakfast Association are absolutely delighted that the UK competition regulator , the CMA , has today announced ‘ enforcement action ’ against Online Travel Agencies ( OTAs ) that it believes are breaking consumer protection law . The areas covered are those we raised in our five formal complaints to the CMA last July - i . e . false ‘ discounts ’, false availability claims and
Above : how the Daily Mail covered the issue ( 4 July ’ 18 )
other ‘ pressure selling ’ techniques , manipulated search rankings influenced by payments to the OTAs , and false ‘ Best Price ’ guarantees . The CMA ’ s very welcome action will help move the balance of power a little from these global tech giants – who are after all only intermediaries - back towards the small businesses that actually own the accommodation booked , and provide the hospitality .”
Kate Nicholls , the chief executive of UK Hospitality , which represents the major hotel groups , welcomed the CMA ’ s announcement saying it would bring ‘ reassurance ’ for customers .“ The CMA clearly intends to ensure that online booking sites are transparent and accurate , and that customers have complete peace of mind when booking ,” she told the BBC .