Third-party hotel booking sites can mislead consumers.
THIS is the situation: Customers search for a particular hotel and click on a link. They think they’ve landed on the official hotel website, but unknowingly they really have arrived at an unrelated site of a hotel booking company.
They’re promised great deals—and warned that rooms are going fast—but it turns out these so-called bargains are often worse than what’s offered directly by the hotel. Many people have discovered this practice the hard way …
“Debbie Greenspan tried to call a Marriott hotel directly and instead was connected to representatives from Hotels.com.” —Alina Tugend, The New York Times
Alina Tugend’s story is a horror show.
[See the illustration in the media player at right.]
I entered “marriott marquis new york” into Google.
The first two listings are bogus, counterfeit Marriott ads designed to dupe consumers. In any other venue, this would be false advertising and fraud.
Under the Federal Trade Commission Act:
• Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive
David Attardi of B.F. Saul Company’s hospitality group called this practice “a systematic industry problem.”
This is a Google problem.
The Denny Hatch Simple Blue-Ribbon Solution
Require Google—and all other search companies—to put a small blue ribbon icon next to all authentic websites where the owner is paid up and current.
This means all of our websites will be instantly recognizable to those who want to reach us.
Takeaway to Consider
“When in doubt, do the obvious.” —Franklin Watts