A travel business watchdog is investigating online hotel booking services

It is wonderful to have plenty of choice when planning a trip, and considering the options where to stay each night during the journey. Hotels, hostels, bed & breakfast places, bungalows at camp sites and private apartments or houses are only a click away at online booking sites. As many travelers have discovered, however, online booking services don’t always provide customers with correct information, causing a lot of problems during a trip. In the UK, a watchdog is investigating accommodation booking services.
Apartments next to beach in Algarve, Portugal BBC reports that the UK watchdog Competition and Markets Authority is investigating the major booking services, like Booking.com, Airbnb if they are conducting following shady practices, among other questionable practices:

    Are tourists forced to pay unexpected extra charges such as taxes and booking fees later in the booking process.
    What is really behind “alerts” that show how many people are looking at the same room, how many rooms are left, and how long a price is available.
    How search result rankings are influenced by factors, such as how much commission a hotel pays the site.
    Are discount claims true, or are weekday rates compared to a previous weekend rate.

I was fooled by Booking.com to reserve a private apartment in a city center. After paying for it on Booking.com, and without the possibility to cancel, the service told me that cleaning will cost extra. While checking in to the place, the representative who managed to property for the owner, told me that parking costs extra. None of this was mentioned in the product listing. Customer support modified the information in the listing after I contacted them but refused to reimburse me.

One of my colleagues stopped using Airbnb after she had been fooled by the host. The product listing included incorrect and misleading information about the location, environment and safety of the place. Airbnb did nothing to correct the misinformation.

This is the major problem with the online booking services that list private apartments: they do not verify the information hosts provide about their properties. Only when travelers pay for staying in a property, problems are discovered. Then, it is too late for guests who have paid the full price but don’t receive what was listed on the booking site.

Have you had any problems like these with hotels when you have made a reservation directly with the hotel? I haven’t.

It is about time that the booking services are properly investigated and told to behave. Until then, I am not using any of those online accommodation booking services, but I am reserving directly only.
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2 thoughts on “A travel business watchdog is investigating online hotel booking services”

  1. I’m fed up with the so called “customer reviews” on these travel booking sites. Positive reviews are displayed on the first page, and negative are hidden so well they are difficult to find. How many of those reviews are real, I don’t know. In Italy, we rented an apartment in the lake Garda region from a real estate agent. She was convinced that Airbnb and Booking.com feature a lot of fake reviews. In any case, renting from an agent with the possibility to actually see the place before paying is the right way to do it.

  2. It looks like Airbnb is running a business without any concern to residents or neighborhoods. The company aims at massive growth and worry about consequences later.
    A university professor has studied Airbnb, and the results indicate more restrictions are coming to short-term private apartment rentals in tourist destinations around the world.

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