Online booking: Booking.com and Expedia clarify their practices

The tourism economy was turned upside down during the Covid-19 health crisis, and the industry’s platforms have been singled out in terms of consumer protection. In 2020, booking flexibility and compliance with health rules are the criteria that are particularly closely watched by travelers wishing to make hotel reservations online. The large hotel platforms, impacted by the health crisis, are called upon to practice more transparent communication with their customers.

The European Commission announced at the end of last week that Booking.com and the Expedia group have improved the presentation of their accommodation offers, in accordance with European consumer protection legislation.

Improvements relate to the presentation of promotional offers and discounts, as well as influencing techniques. These changes, which meet the requirements of European legislation, are supposed to allow consumers to be “better equipped to compare different offers in an informed manner” evokes the Commission.

In the health context of Covid-19, the European Commission has also underlined the “need to guarantee easy and direct access to the conditions and cancellation procedures” which a traveler can resort to in the event of a disruption.

Practices aligned with those of Airbnb

This coordinated action to make consumer transactions on the Booking.com site more transparent started in early 2019, under the supervision of the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets. And in December 2019, his Hungarian counterpart in turn began a similar dialogue with the Expedia group. And these exchanges have led the two platforms to make “many changes to their websites and mobile applications,” observed the European Commission.

The Airbnb platform had already brought its services into compliance with EU law in July 2019, in order to guarantee customers that their reservations comply with the promised offers, with the certainty that the price displayed is indeed the real price.

“I would like to thank these two companies for their cooperation. As travel restrictions evolve, I call on all online travel service providers to follow this example and ensure that European consumers can accept their accommodation offers with confidence. confidence and easily find information on cancellation procedures ”declared Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice.

Transparency on referral criteria

Booking.com and Expedia have clarified their display including on featured offers, how payments received by accommodation service providers have influenced rankings, number of people who would like to book at the same hotel for the same dates, and the number of rooms that remain available on the website.

Both online platforms have agreed to clarify their pricing information. Thus, they have agreed to display the total price that consumers will pay for accommodation, including charges and fees automatically charged, or price comparisons that serve to ensure that only the actual discounts are. displayed as such.

Among the list of changes madeFor example, Expedia now indicates on the search results page when payments made by listed properties affect accommodation rankings. Ditto for Booking.com, which now shows when hotels and places of accommodation pay extra to appear higher in the ranking.

The European authorities hope to convince the entire industry to follow the path. “The supervisory authorities will get in touch with European trade associations, online travel agents and hotel accommodation service providers to get them to adhere to the same principles and commitments as Airbnb, Booking. com and the Expedia group ”specified the Commission.

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Online booking: Booking.com and Expedia clarify their practices

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