“One room left at this price”, “booked four times in the last 24 hours”, “there are two other people looking at this same room”. Have you seen this kind of marketing scheme used on hotel and hostel websites? Well after a 15 month investigation, they will have to make changes to this tactic.
Since October 2017, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have been investigating sites like Booking.com, Expedia, Hotels.com, Trivago, and another few online travel agents (OTAs) over their use of misleading sales manoeuvres and after September 1st they have to make drastic changes or face severe action.
These tactics include pressuring potential guests into reserving a room/bed by using such phrases as “one room left at this price” when in actual fact there are a quite a lot left available. Having worked in hostels, I can honestly tell you that when there are a minimal amount of beds/rooms available, they are removed from the online sites to avoid overbooking concerns. The phrase “booked four times in the last 24 hours” can be deceptive as it can imply that not only is the accommodation in high demand but also that there are not many beds available. It does not actually specify when these booking were made for so your particular dates are actually in no distress. Another tactic I’ve come across personally was the phrase “there are two other people looking at this same room”. This can imply, like the previous one, that you in danger of not finding accommodation for your selected dates. However, there is absolutely no way to verify if the other people are looking at the same rooms/ dorms as you, or if they’re looking at the same dates.
As I stated in the video/article How To Get The Most Out Of EUROwn Money, it’s best to shop around for the best deals which also includes going directly to the accommodation’s website or contacting them directly as this can offer much cheaper prices.
They have also been found to be promoting inaccurate prices with the intention of inciting people to buy from them, but when going through the site, after adding taxes and other fees, the price has actually increased dramatically. Another technique used is to show flash messages showing a reduced weekday rate when in actual fact it’s actually being compared with a weekend rate which are often usually higher. I know from my experience, that Booking.com were actually showing the price of a bed at 6 Euro more than booking directly through the hostel. This doesn’t sound like too much, but if you keep spending more than you should be, this can snowball and next thing you know, you’ve spent all your funds!
Ultimately, as of September 1st, the experience of booking through these OTAs should be a lot less stressful and a lot more accurate to the prices you will actually pay. However, I still recommend having a look around as many sites as possible, to find the cheapest rate possible, which means visiting all the big sites and also contacting the host where you want to stay directly.