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Holidays: Hotel price comparison site warning – how to avoid paying extra charges

The TV star spoke to Cecilia Parker Aranha from the Competition and Markets Authority to find out what holidaymakers need to watch out for when they use hotel comparison sites.

“All the hotels will pay a commission to the online travel agencies at the point that the booking is made,” Aranha clarified.

“The amount of commission paid doesn’t affect the consumer, but it does affect what they see.”

The problem here is that travellers may be swayed into thinking the hotels at the top are the best for them.

Aranha said: “Hotels that pay more commission can appear further up the list, so it might be that there are hotels further down the list that would be more suitable for them.”

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Instead, globetrotters should be sure to scroll down to other hotels in the list rather than plumping for the ones in the top five.

They should also be sure to re-rank the search results to make sure they’re looking for precisely which accommodation suits their need.

“I don’t think everybody does [know the hotel are at the top because they paid commission],” said Aranha.

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“One thing that we saw during our investigation was that in some cases, 80 percent of people didn’t bother to re-rank the search results.

“And of those 80 percent, the vast majority of them would book from the first five results.”

The expert continued: “They’re not a pure comparison website.

“There are ways of changing the settings on the booking sites so that you can sort according to price, you can sort according to the quality of the customer reviews or the distance, or a particular location.”

It’s also worth noting than many of the major price comparison sites are actually owned by the same company.

“The other thing that most people don’t realise is that the big two – Booking.com and Expedia – own loads of other websites that basically do the same thing,” explained Grant.

“Booking Holdings who own Booking.com, also own Kayak, Agoda and cheap flights.com and Expedia owns trivago, ebookers, and Travelocity.

“In fact, just those two companies account for over 70 percent of all revenue generated from online travel agencies.”

However, as Skelton points, out: “Knowing that online travel sites charge commission gives you good ammunition when it comes to haggling.”

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In the show, the presenter advised a British couple to ring up the hotels they were interested in directly and see what they could offer.

Both found they could make considerable savings booking with the hotel rather than the price comparison site – so it’s always worth trying this trick yourself when organising your next holiday.

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