Hospitality Today Summer 2018 (#39) - Page 7

hospitalitytoday.com | 7 and other price promises to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the UK advertising regulator. The CMA has asked the ASA to consider whether statements like ‘best price guarantee’ or ‘lowest price’ mislead customers and what conditions must be met for companies to make such claims. The CMA says it “continues to assess the evidence it has gathered on the practices of other online hotel booking sites and could launch further enforcement cases in due course”. The Daily Mail (“Why you can’t trust those hotel booking websites”, 4 July 2018 - left) told its three million readers “holidaymakers who think they are getting the best deal may actually be paying far more than they need to for their room”. It said “You could save a fifth by booking direct . . Buying straight from a hotel can be twenty per cent cheaper than shopping around on third party sites”. A spokesman for leading OTA Expedia said: “We are aware of the announcement from the CMA. Expedia Group continuously aims to deliver the best travel options at affordable prices in transparent, clear and easy to understand ways, so that our customers have all the information they need to make informed travel choices. Expedia will continue to engage with the CMA on these consumer matters, as it continues its inquiries in the travel sector.” In addition to its enforcement activity, the CMA has sent warning letters to a range of sites, demanding they review their terms and practices to make sure they are fair and comply with consumer protection law. It is also referring a number of concerns around online hotel booking sites’ price guarantees Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, told the Daily Mail: “Customers should not take the prices on these sites for granted. Use them as a comparison guide and then contact the hotels directly. They would rather get a direct sale because they avoid paying commission. In return, they can at least match the cheapest online prices - or give you an even cheaper rate.” A spokesman for Booking.com says: “We are constantly optimising the consumer experience on our website and mobile apps in an ongoing effort to deliver a best-in-class experience for our customers. “We have cooperated with the CMA during their industry-wide investigation and we look forward to continuing to work with them to resolve any concerns they have.” The CMA is inviting further evidence on the issues being considered – go to: https://www.gov.uk/cma-cases/ online-hotel-booking