Are Hotel Comparison Websites Misleading You?

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Are Hotel Comparison Websites Misleading You?

The tourism industry is not what it was a couple of years back. Earlier, there were limited options for people to explore.

Also, back then, people did not have as many accommodation options. Today, the millennial traveller can have their pick from a wide range of hotels and resorts. Five-star hotels, beach resorts, mountain-side cottages, hostels, boutique lodgings- there are endless options.

And thanks to technology, travellers can find suitable accommodation spaces in their budget range. Almost every resort has an online presence. And multiple comparison websites list all the top-rated hotels. Compare the prices, check the ratings, read through the reviews to make a prudent decision. But, are these websites as effective?

Well, that is what I am going to explore below. Read on to know the truth of these hotel comparison websites and how they work.

Why are comparison websites so popular?

Comparison websites and lists save you a lot of time and trouble. People rarely want to research about the accommodation options. So, it is pretty convenient when someone else does all the work for you. All you have to do is go on one of these comparison websites, and you have all the information.

Recent studies chart the rising popularity of these platforms. It reveals how about 70% of people rely on these comparison websites for their bookings. The Comparative and Market Authority, aka CMA, tries to dig deeper. This organization investigates the credibility of the comparison platforms. It also seeks to figure out how these websites rank hotels and categorize them.

How do websites rank hotels?

Contrary to popular belief, these comparison websites are not always accurate with their results. Yes, you get multiple filters to pick from. But that does not mean you get sorted, or precise search results. Most platforms use a standard algorithm to sort through the various hotels.

You cannot trust any random comparison site out there. Only a few select websites verify the hotels physically before recommending them. Most platforms list out the popular hotels pulled up from a basic Google search. So, it is likely that you will not find the most relevant deals—hard luck.

What you see and what you get

It might come as a surprise to most, but comparison websites are not as reliable as they claim to be. A significant chunk of the recommendations you see is misleading customers. The price filters, facilities and locations do not work in most cases. These comparison websites usually feature hotels at an extra charge. Resorts market their rooms and services on these platforms.

Also, the pictures, description and other details mentioned here might always be genuine. Those impressive poolside suites and luxury rooms are not so pretty in reality. In some cases, even the listed prices are false or outdated. It is always better to verify the hotel personally and not depend on bogus online sources.

The comparison websites target solo travellers, families, and students for leads. Therefore, you can expect recommendations for homestays, hostels and other student accommodations.

Are comparison websites credible?

Not every hotel comparison website you stumble across is reliable. It is exceedingly difficult for a first-timer to judge a hotel by its online profile. You can find numerous case studies that highlight how these websites dupe customers. They use the oldest trick in the book to lure more users. Let me explain their marketing tactic using a short example.

Imagine you are planning a trip to Japan for the holidays. A quick Google search pulls up the list of hotels you can pick from.

You research a bit more and consult comparison websites to find the cheapest deals. Now, most platforms try to create a sense of urgency to enhance their sales.

For, every time a customer books a hotel via their website, it earns a commission. So, you are likely to come across messages like, “no vacancy”, “rooms almost full” etc. This increases demand and urges customers to make hasty decisions.

Are discounts authentic and fair?

Now, the travel industry has some peak seasons when the destination has the maximum demand. This means that more and more people would want to visit the place during a particular season.

For instance, beaches are famous during the summers while people prefer mountains when it is colder. Off-season travel, therefore, is cheaper as hotels are mostly empty and in want of business.

The hotel comparison websites like trivago usually list the seasonal offers and discounts for its users. However, these discounts can be misleading. Most platforms add their commission or an extra charge on the prices. The availability of rooms and services are also false. The demand for suites may not be as high as portrayed.

Another point that I would want to touch upon is about payments. Check if the payment gateways are encrypted, registered, and verified. You don’t want your hard-earned money to go down the drain.

So, what can you do?

The more you travel, the more you see through these tricks that comparison websites try to play on you. It is always better to keep your options open. Do not rely on one particular website for your bookings. Instead, refer to multiple such comparison websites. Also, visit the official page of the hotel, check its social media presence, and read through the reviews.

Trusting a single source can be a problem. And it is always better to verify the facts. Always call up the hotel or send in an email to check up on the bookings. Most comparison websites create a sense of haste, sending out misleading messages.

Also, avoid booking rooms via these platforms. It is better you visit the official pages of the hotels, confirm the information, and then make reservations.

The bottom line

The travel trends change every season and hotels try to capitalize on them rapidly. New places are popping up every day, giving tourists more options to pick from.

When it comes to hotels, you can trust only a few credible sources. Holidays are the perfect time to unwind and relax. Use these tips and your common sense to gauge the quality of services you see. That is all you can rely upon

Mary J.
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