The competition watchdog is launching enforcement action against a number of hotel booking sites which it believes may be breaking the law.
As part of an ongoing investigation, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has identified widespread concerns about the practice of reserving a room online.
:: How hotels are ranked in search results
:: The pressure put on consumers to buy when they see claims about how many rooms are left or how many people are viewing the same room
:: Whether discount claims offer a fair comparison and the extent to which sites include all costs in the price they first show
The chief executive of the CMA, Andrea Coscelli, said: “Booking sites can make it so much easier to choose your holiday, but only if people are able to trust them.
“Holidaymakers must feel sure they’re getting the deal they expected, whether that’s securing the discount promised or receiving reliable information about availability of rooms.
“It’s also important that no one feels pressured by misleading statements into making a booking.
“That’s why we’re now demanding that sites think again about how they’re presenting information to their customers and make sure they’re complying with the law.
“Our next step is to take any necessary action – including through the courts if needed – to ensure people get a fair deal.”
The CMA hasn’t identified the hotel booking sites it is investigating but says it is demanding that they take action to address its concerns.
Guy Anker from Money Saving Expert believes tough action is needed to protect the consumer.
He said: “We are pleased to see action is being taken. The key thing is people have to be able to trust hotel booking sites.
More from Business
“I would stress that they are still one of the best ways of booking a hotel, you very quickly find out the cheapest price but you might have to do an additional click to make sure you are really getting that price.
“We have found consumers are getting the wrong price, which means it is so difficult to compare. The CMA needs to root out the problem so the first price you see is genuinely what you get.”