Consumers Get Bilked $5.7B Amid Online Booking Scams

Online Bookings Bilk Consumers

The sound of billions lost from online booking scams.  Let’s say you booked and paid for your hotel online – does your hotel really have the reservation?

In a nutshell:  Third-party online booking scams and misleading websites have cost consumers roughly $6B – yes, that’s BILLION –  in hotel transactions annually (and growing!), according to a report from the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA).  You may be one of the 40% of consumers that didn’t know that Priceline and Expedia control 95% of the online travel market.

If you’ve shopped for hotels online then you’ve probably seen the message ‘only 1 room left’ or ‘there are 50 people looking at this hotel’ – ways to manipulate consumers using FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out is the new version of we used to call “FUD” – Fear, Urgency, and Doubt).  Perhaps you did make a reservation only to find ‘no room at the Inn’ as the research shows that 1 out of 4 travelers booking online had a problem with their reservation.

What’s the solution to Online Booking Scams?

  1. Booking directly with the hotel or all-inclusive resort is the best way to avoid issues, and you’ll almost always get the best deals if you’re comfortable booking your own airfare. When you book directly with the resort, most of the time you won’t be required to pay until you checkout, although some will still charge a 1-night deposit to hold the room for you.
  2. The AHLA created a Search Smarter‘ campaign to encourage consumers to take more time and be more aware of the site they’re shopping.  For example, some third-party sites include the name of the hotel in their link, but it isn’t the hotel site.
  3. Contact a skilled travel advisor.  They will have the most up to date information and rates directly from the hotels & resorts.

The government may also get involved in an effort to protect consumers with the Stop Online Booking Scams Act of 2019, which was initiated in July 2019.

Don’t Miss:

Top Travel Scams and How to Avoid Them
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[Checklist] – Finding Deals on All Inclusive Resorts

More Reading:

New Research Shows Fraudulent, Misleading Hotel Bookings Rob Consumers of $5.7 Billion Annually
Bipartisan bill would crack down on online hotel booking scams

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About Donna Adinolfi 248 Articles
Donna Adinolfi is a wellness travel expert, a freelance writer, an award-winning photographer, and the founder/publisher of Her 30+ year career includes serving as the Travel & Spa Editor of Balance Magazine as well as planning wellness travel & retreats. An avid fan of the freedom from carrying cash or credit cards, Donna loves to visit all-inclusive wellness resorts in the U.S, and traveling to some of Mexico's and the Caribbean's many all-inclusive resorts several times each year. She's also a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association.
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