Thursday 7 February 2019

Travel sites get the CMA treatment - who is next?

Today's Times reports that 'the [CMA] has been urged to take tougher action against travel sites...for promoting misleading discount claims'.

This has implications far wider than the travel industry, but let's stay with them for just a moment. here are two screen-grabs from a recent Trivago TV ad... might well be given the impression that the same room could be had for as much as £80 or as little as £44 (but they are careful not to say that). Next, a few seconds later...

...the 'top' price has risen to an eye-watering £87 - £1 short of double the 'lowest'.

So we did a few searches for ourselves, here's one (for a hotel in Paris)...

...mmm, from a low of £124 to a high of £153. Not quite the bargain - or the spread - the ad implies (especially when it looks like the rooms being compared are not exactly like for like - 'Classic Room' v. 'Twin Standard Room' - don't you just love the names hotels give to their cheapest rooms?), but we're sure Trivago has the numbers to back up its advertising.

So what? We hear everyone outside the hospitality industry say. The answer to that is - behave yourselves, or the CMA (backed up by media like the Times) is coming for you. Here is what they had to say to the Times in this instance...

So, if your are in any doubt that your business is misleading consumers in any way - and we're obviously talking reviews here - you need to review your current practices. You can speak to us, but you should start by asking yourself a very simple question: 'Does our approach to reviews, or the reviews system we currently use, give us an edge over our customers?'

If the answer to that is 'Yes' - whatever you are doing is almost certain to be non-compliant with the CMA regulations (in other words: the law).

Read this article... full here.

And to answer the question posed in the title: 'Who is next?'...

Well, considering we have filing cabinets full to overflowing with evidence of nearly every kind business you can think of breaking the law, we are sure the CMA has too, our betting is to perm any one from these three, on the basis that misleading consumers if you are in these lines of business can lead to far greater losses than just a few hundred pounds on a hotel room...
  • healthcare - you life, or that of a loved one
  • wealth management - your money 
  • estate agency - your largest asset

Watch this space.

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