With Labor Day right around the corner, millions of Americans will be traveling for what will be their end of Summer reprieve – however, it could very well be anything but.
The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) is warning consumers about a hotel booking scam that is costing nearly $4 Billion and affecting nearly 55 million bookings per year.
Here’s how the scam works:
- Consumers go to book their hotel reservation online by searching hotels on Google or a similar search engine.
- Consumer clicks on one of the top links that pops up, which appears to be the actual hotel’s website. They are then taken to this website, which appears to be the hotel’s website, with the hotel’s logo, the hotel’s copyrighted images and even a URL that includes the hotel’s name.
- No red flags being raised, the consumer either calls the 1-800 number or books through what they think is the actual hotel’s website.
- They then get to the hotel to find out that they did not actually book with the hotel website, but instead through a third-party.
- Sometimes when travelers arrive, they don’t even have a reservation.
But the consumer, in most cases still gets their room – so what’s the problem?
This flat-out deception can result in a number of issues, including, but not limited to:
- The reservation is not what they want or need – such as two double beds or handicap accessibility.
- An additional booking fee, usually around 25%, that they would not have been charged had they actually booked directly through the hotel’s website.
- If they need to cancel or change their reservation, they are out of luck – and since third-parties charge the consumer in advance unlike the hotel, it is nearly impossible to get their money back.
- The reward points they thought they were earning don’t exist.
- The reservation was lost or never existed.
So before you decide to RSVP, make sure you have a “real” reservation for accommodations this holiday weekend, especially at the correct price.