How Hotel Comparison Websites Cheat You Out Of Holiday Cash

Online travel agents might allow you to book your holiday more quickly and with greater ease.

However, you might get tricked out of the best rates or deals.

Certain holiday booking sites use misleading tactics to make you rush to book your holiday hotel rooms.

You also often paying more than the standard rate when using these sites, says James Osmond, Chief Operating Officer of Triptease, a company that works with thousands of hotels worldwide.

This follows last week’s news that Competition and Markets Authority, a consumer watchdog, is launching a consumer law investigation into hotel booking sites.

The watchdog is investigating practices such as pressure selling and discount claims.

James – who welcomed the news – said he agrees hotel booking sites are “potentially misleading customers”.

One example of this is a pressure selling tactic where hotels say they only have a small number of rooms available at the hotel, rushing customers to whip out their credit card.

He explains: “While the online travel agent (OTA) may genuinely have two rooms left that are available for distribution through them, the hotel may still have plenty of availability if you go to their website. The OTA doesn’t make that clear.”

Another dodgy tactic, according to James, is boosting the search ranking of certain hotels – i.e. the ones who offer the site the most commission for giving them business.

Although search rankings on these sites are “determined by a closely-guarded algorithm” that factors in things like customer review, room availability and room price, commission is likely to be “fundamental” to where hotels are listed.

This means consumers aren’t necessarily given the best value deals, but instead book with hotels that pay the site the most commission.

So if you’re unsure, you might be better off logging on to the hotel’s site, rather than automatically going to your usual booking comparison platform.

“More often than not, it pays to book direct with the hotel,” says James.

“This is better both in terms of getting the best price but also by receiving a better experience through room upgrades, complimentary drinks, faster check-ins and personalised service.”

To find the best possible deals, you could always try heading a last minute Berlin holiday, which was recently found to have the best trip deals for November.

Francesca Specter has been a regular contributor to express

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