OTA’s, more like No-TA’s

“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.

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4 thoughts on “OTA’s, more like No-TA’s

  1. I would always recommend contacting the organisation straight away as well. Hostelword has been increasingly demanding a bigger and bigger fee that, in some places, comes out of the customer. It also feels like they are getting a more abusive, sort of monopolistic attitude lately (this is how it is if you don´t like it we will take you out of the list). For cheaper fares, and benefit to local economy, I would always contact the hostel.

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    1. My stance is more that if you don’t know where to stay, have a look on HW at their reviews, they seem to be the most honest reviews in comparison with other OTAs but then book direct with the hostel and avoid paying anything extra to these massive conglomerates. I did hear about the fee, apparently in some places it had risen to about 18%!!!
      I complete understand their attitude as they do kind of have a monopoly on the hostel side of accommodation.
      We should make our own OTA, it’d be the best!

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  2. ugh I’m so gullible with this! I’ve procrastinated too often on tickets or bookings and prices always go up… Is it true that clearing cookies/cache or going incognito helps with that too?

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    1. Clearing cookies/cache can dramatically help with this, especially when searching for flights as prices can really fluctuate (I actually talk about this in my next article/video). Going Incognito is also recommended but there may still be evidence of your activity on their site.
      With accommodation, prices only tend to rise according to availability, or the dates you’re searching for. Ultimately, I still suggest contacting hostels directly as they can give more accurate rates and availability.

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