Twenty five accommodation bookings sites including TripAdvisor, Airbnb and Google alongside major hotel chains have agreed to changes secured by the UK competition watchdog.
They have agreed to change how they display information where needed and signed up to sector-wide principles for complying with consumer protection law.
The Competition and Markets Authority principles include not giving a false impression of a room’s popularity and always displaying the full cost of a room upfront.
Most have already made any necessary changes.
However, Accor, IHG, Hilton, Marriott, Radisson Hotel Group, and Wyndham Hotels and Resorts requested more time as they will need to introduce specific technical updates so that UK customers are always shown the full cost of a room upfront when searching for hotels abroad.
The CMA will be closely monitoring to ensure that these firms make the required changes in a “timely manner”.
Today’s measures follow CMA enforcement action in February against six other online firms – Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, ebookers and trivago – for serious concerns it had around issues like pressure selling, misleading discount claims and the effect that commission has on how hotels are ordered on sites.
The CMA was concerned that some of these practices could mislead people, stop them finding the best deal and potentially break consumer protection law.
All six formally committed to clean up their sites and have now made the agreed changes.
The authority is also pushing for compliance with consumer protection law in the travel and tourism sector globally.
As part of this, it is co-leading an international project with other consumer enforcement agencies, which aims to tackle these issues on a global basis.
CMA CEO Andrea Coscelli said: “People booking hotels online can now do so with more confidence thanks to the CMA’s action.
“Major websites and big hotel chains have agreed to clean up their act if they’ve been using misleading sales tactics, and have signed up to sector-wide consumer law principles on how to display important information to customers.
“The CMA will now be watching to make sure that these major brands, used by millions of people in the UK every year, stay true to their word. We will take action if we find evidence that firms are breaking consumer law.”
The CMA warned that it will “not hesitate” to take further action if it finds that any sites fail to make the appropriate changes or it becomes concerned that people are being misled.
The 25 online hotel and other accommodation booking platforms to have signed up to the CMA’s consumer protection law principles are:
- Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Great Britain
- Late Rooms (no longer operating)
- Premier Inn
- Radisson Hotel Group
- Travel Republic
- Wyndham Hotels and Resorts
Not all firms engaged in all of the practices cited above, but all have nonetheless agreed to abide by all the sector-wide principles, according to the CMA.
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