Washington, D.C. – May 26, 2015 – The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), the sole national association representing all segments of the 1.8 million-employee lodging industry, today applauded Senator Grassley, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for his support in calling attention to deceptive hotel booking sites, which trick consumers into thinking they are booking directly with a hotel. Chairman Grassley sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking it to investigate the deceptive practices of rogue third party booking sites.
“We are grateful for Chairman Grassley’s support in calling attention to this growing problem for consumers. As summer travel season gets underway, it’s more important than ever for consumers to protect themselves from third party booking sites that trick them into thinking they are booking directly with a hotel. AH&LA has urged the FTC to look into these deceptive practices that amount to some 2.5 million bookings a year. That translates to more than $220 million in bookings that are misleading. The bottom line is that in many cases, consumers are not getting what they want or need, not to mention incurring other costs including, unnecessary fees or service charges, lost reservations or other unexpected charges and lost loyalty points,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AH&LA.
“As Chairman Grassley pointed out in his letter to the FTC, these sites are designed to lead consumers to trust they are booking with the hotel chain when they are not. Consumers want and deserve clear, transparent communication when they are transacting online. The best solution to keep consumers from getting tripped up – and the better value– is to book travel directly with the hotel.”
With about one in every three travelers booking a vacation online, consumers need to be vigilant when booking hotel rooms. AH&LA estimates that in the lodging sector alone, there are some 2.5 million bookings a year that are misleading consumers. That’s when consumers aren’t booking directly with a hotel, and instead are booking on rogue sites that pretend to be the hotel’s booking site.
Chairman Grassley’s letter follows one sent earlier this month by the Arizona Congressional delegation to the Justice Department.