July 05, 2018

Will the OTA watchdog make any difference?

It can feel as though OTAs have a Hydra-like quality to them: for every action taken against them, they'll find two new ways to enter new markets and acquire more customers.

It has been announced that the UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is launching 'enforcement action' against various OTAs to ensure that large online travel sites are fully complying with consumer protection law. The brunt of the CMA's investigation - launched in October 2017 - is concerned with whether consumers are being 'misled' by pressure-selling tactics, such as 'One room left!' messages, and hidden fees & charges that undercut any 'Best rate guarantee' the OTA may be displaying.

While any legislative or legal challenges that may result will only apply in the UK, the move displays a welcome recognition of the fact that third-party booking sites, while providing a valuable search and comparison service, aren't always prioritizing the consumer and the value they get for their money.

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