CMA Takes Action on Deceptive OTA Sales Tactics

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced recently that it has initiated a crackdown against Expedia, Booking.com, Agoda, Hotels.com, ebookers, and trivago to correct issues like pressure selling, misleading discount claims, the effect that commission has on how accommodations are positioned on sites, and hidden charges.

The big kids have been behaving badly and are now being told to sit on the naughty step until they apologise and fix the issues outlined in the report (deadline of September 1st).

This isn’t the first time the CMA have investigated these practices, but it is the first time that some form of solid action has been taken. Finally! Read the report in full here.

Good! Does it go far enough?

Now, this is all well and good. The big players have had a slap on the wrist and will stop their (in our opinion) blatant tactics at pressure selling and other ‘Del Boy’ type schemes.

This is a step in the right direction but by no means will it transform the travel merket place into a transparent, customer focussed eutopia. No way!

More to be done?

There are still activities that these OTA’s use to keep a lock-jaw grip on the market. This has led to outcries that the initial action against OTA’s by the CMA doesn’t go far enough.

As a Host or Hotelier, you’re most likely aware of these.. Parity rates & Brandjacking.

Although ‘Rate Parity’ has been rumbled throughout Europe it still echos in the Americas. Hoteliers are calling for a complete squash and subsequent enforcement so they aren’t contracted to display their best rates on OTA’s.

Brandjacking, however, has had little mention and no investigation from an authoritative board. This is where OTA’s are bidding ridiculous amounts of money via Google Search Ads for the Hotel names listed on their sites. Meaning, if a guest searches for a specific hotel name the OTA’s ads will come top over the hotels own search advertising and indeed organic listing. Hotels can’t get direct bookings (their most profitable form of booking) because they simply can’t afford to match the marketing spend of the big boys.

Large OTA’s are manufacturing their own visibility and treading on the Hotels listed with them in the process.

So, it’s great to see the CMA taking action and edging us nearer to some sort of transparent marketplace. But how long will it (if ever) be until the OTA’s ‘gut punch’ tactics are squandered?

Let us know your thoughts on the matter? Angry about the big OTA’s? Let loose in the comments guys. We’re here for you!