Man on the Phone | Teplis Travel

How Online Travel Sites Manipulate Your Search Results

Think you’re getting an unbiased search for the lowest hotel rate online? Think again. Travel author Christopher Elliott recently revealed the truth about booking hotels through online travel sites at the Huffington Post. Turns out sites like Expedia intentionally delete the images of some hotels in an effort to persuade (the visitor) to book a different hotel. The practice, euphemistically called “dimming,” involves deliberately minimizing a hotel’s appearance or ranking in an online agency’s results. It’s the byproduct of a behind-the-scenes conflict between hotels, which want customers to book directly with them, and online travel agencies, which don’t want to be undercut by the hotels. The dimming problem flickered to life this spring, after hotels won a series of court victories in Europe that effectively allowed them to offer lower rates on their own websites, according to Dori Stein, the chief executive of Fornova, a technology company that works with hotels. Previously, hotels had contracts with online agencies that gave the agencies’ sites their best rates. “Online travel agencies retaliated by dimming,” Stein said. The practice quickly spread to affect properties in the United States, where the requirement to offer a better rate was dropped after the rulings in Europe. Expedia, Stein said, is the most prominent dimmer in the travel business, while Booking.com has lowered the rankings of some hotels but hasn’t removed their pictures. To read more, click here.

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