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Third-Party Booking Sites Lead to Fraudulent, Misleading Hotel Bookings



The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) has found that fraudulent and misleading hotel bookings are costing consumers billions of dollars each year.

Its research found that online booking scams and dishonest marketing practices by fraudulent and misleading travel websites are rampant and that 23 percent of consumers report being misled by third-party traveler resellers on the phone or online. This led to $5.7 billion in fraudulent and misleading hotel booking transactions in 2018 alone.

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“The numbers we saw in this research are completely unacceptable. Consumers are being robbed of billions of dollars every year by bad actors,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of AHLA. “In addition to third-party websites that mimic hotel websites and call centers, but are not actually affiliated with a hotel, costing consumers time and money, this new research shows just how big of a problem deceptive advertising is on some online travel agency websites.”

In fact, one out of four consumers experienced a problem with their reservation, and more than 40 percent of consumers were upset to learn that when they comparison shop with companies such as Trivago, Kayak, Expedia, Orbitz,, Travelocity, and others, they are usually just comparing the same two companies: Expedia and Priceline, which together control 95 percent of the online travel market.

Nearly all consumers (94 percent) believe that they should know who they are doing business with online when booking a hotel room, and 77 percent want the government to enforce consumer protection laws against third-party hotel resellers.

AHLA’s Search Smarter campaign can show consumers how to prevent common mistakes and avoid lost reservations and additional fees. The program instructs travelers to book smart and use trusted travel agents or book directly with the property for the best deals.

“Given the continued fraudulent issues we’re seeing, AHLA reminds consumers to Search Smarter, a campaign to educate consumers about these problems and encourage consumers to slow down when booking a hotel and not be pressured by misleading advertising or deceived by fraudulent websites. Our focus in the hospitality industry is to make sure guests have a smooth, stress-free experience, from booking the room to checking out after their stay. We recommend consumers look before they book, take advantage of loyalty programs and book directly with the hotel or a trusted travel agent” continued Rogers.

AHLA is also advocating for Congressional passage of the Stop Online Booking Scams Act.

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