Anyone who has ever used holiday comparison sites knows exactly how an innocent browse at potential hotel deals can quickly turn into an impulse booking. And while some of us like to put that down to spontaneity, a lot of it has to do with the fear of missing out on what we think is a ‘great’ deal.
Holiday comparison site are notorious for their overwhelming amount of pop-ups screaming at browsers to ‘buy now’ because there’s ‘only one room left’ and the deal has been ‘booked 50 times in the last 6 hours’.
Yep, we’ve all seen it. However, it has now been revealed that many of these so-called advertising facts are just false or misleading claims made by the company to boost sales, according to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA launched an investigation into six hotel comparison sites including Booking.com, Hotels.com, Trivago and Expedia after ‘serious concerns’ over tactics used by the companies were brought to their attention.
Andrew Tyrie, chairman of the CMA, said: ‘The CMA has taken enforcement action to bring to an end misleading sales tactics, hidden charges and other practices in the online hotel booking market. These have been wholly unacceptable.’
Following the case, which was launched in June 2018, CMA have issued a new set of guidelines for comparison sites to prevent deceptive strategies (such as misleading pop ups) to make sure customers aren’t tricked into booking somewhere.
As a result, these sites will have to make search results clearer. For example, if a comparison site tells you other customers are looking at the same hotel as you, they must specify whether it’s for the same dates. They will also have to make discount claims more transparent and display all compulsory charges. Finally, they will have to end pressure selling completely, meaning they can no longer show sold-out hotels within search results as this has been deemed a tactic to make customers book other places quicker.
So, the next time you book a holiday, you can expect a lot more transparency.