Hotel booking sites scam people out of $5.7B a year, research shows
More than 28 million hotel bookings made through third-party sites in 2018 were affected by some type of misleading information or flat-out scam, according to research released Tuesday.
With about 110,000 hotel rooms in the Garden State, that's an alarming statistic for New Jersey residents.
While hotel brands choose whether or not to share their available rooms with third-party traveler resellers, and for how much of a cut, the American Hotel & Lodging Association says their research shows consumers would be wise to directly book their rooms through a hotel itself.
Twenty-three percent of consumers report being misled by a third-party site, amounting to $5.7 billion worth of fraudulent and misleading hotel booking transactions in 2018 alone.
Examples include online photos that look nothing like the property in person, and sites that take your reservation but fail to pass the booking along to the hotel.
"There's frankly a very simple solution and that is to book directly through the hotel or hotel brand," said AH&LA President and CEO Chip Rogers.
Over 40% of consumers were upset to learn that about 95% of these "digital middle men," such as Orbitz, Travelocity and Kayak, are actually controlled by just two companies, Expedia and Booking.com, the research showed.
In an emailed statement to New Jersey 101.5, Expedia Group said it and all of its travel websites have long been trusted brands.
"And trust in Expedia Group extends beyond consumers," the statement read. "Expedia Group works with the vast majority of AH&LA's members who provide their content directly to us, which demonstrates that even their members agree that we are a trustworthy channel for consumers."
Annual hotel spending in New Jersey is $18 billion. The industry represents nearly 5% of all jobs in the state.
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Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.