Booking.com, the biggest website for online hotel bookings, will have to communicate more honestly about its offers in the future, as the company has reached an agreement with the European Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Didier Reynders.
The website often uses tricks to encourage people to book a room more quickly, like adding "Only 1 room left like this" to its offers. In the future, the website will have to make it clear that they mean one room left on Booking.com, as rooms could still be available via other websites, or through the hotel itself.
The company will have to communicate more correctly and honestly, from now on. "Booking.com must not create a false sense of scarcity," Reynders said, reports VRT.
Discounts should also be communicated more transparently. Lower prices are not always the result of discounts, and are sometimes simply due to different packages being offered, or clients trying the book accommodation for or during different periods in the year.
The company has also agreed to present the total price to be paid by the client for their stay, meaning with all additional charges and taxes. It has negotiated with the European Commission and with national organisations and has promised improvement, according to Reynders. "The company is committed to being clearer and more transparent," he said, reports De Morgen.
"Booking.com is a market leader. It is very important to start with a leader, but we will try to reach agreements with other websites as well," said Reynders, adding now has about six months, until 16 June 2020, to arrange everything.
The agreement with Booking.com was reached after months of discussions with the European Commission and national consumer authorities.
Starting from 17 January 2020, Europe will tighten its consumer legislation. National consumer services will then be granted more power to take action against misleading advertising across national borders.
Apart from being more transparent about the availability of rooms, Booking.com has also agreed to no longer present an offer as 'temporary' if the same price will be offered again at a later date, to clarify how the search results are ranked and whether certain results are sponsored, to clearly indicate whether a room is offered by a private person or a professional, and, lastly, to ask if consumers want to also view offers that are no longer available in the search results. This way he can possibly change his data.
The Brussels Times