Every day, deceptive websites, online ads, and search engines mislead thousands of consumers into believing they are booking directly with a hotel’s website or call center, when in fact they have no affiliation to the hotel. 

A survey commissioned by AHLA found that 23 percent of consumers report being misled by third-party travel resellers on the phone or online. That translates into 28.7 million hotel stays and $5.7 billion in fraudulent and misleading hotel booking transactions in 2018 alone, resulting in extra fees, incorrect accommodations and even lost reservations.


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AHLA Position

AHLA urges Congress to pass the Stop Online Booking Scams Act to force online travel agencies to prominently disclose to consumers that they are not booking directly with the hotel.

To avoid potential booking scams, it’s always safest to book direct with the hotel: You get what you want and need and often the better value when you book direct.

Senate Introduces Stop Online Booking Scams Act

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House Introduces Stop Online Booking Scams Act

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Key Stats

  • Some 55 million online hotel bookings are affected by fraudulent websites and call centers posing as hotel websites.
  • $3.9 billion in bad bookings per year.
  • A majority of those who have booked a hotel online say that they prefer dealing directly with the hotel (56 percent).
  • Consumers search at least seven to ten websites before booking a reservation.
  • Some 500 online hotel bookings are transacted every minute in the United States.
  • The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), AAA, and various other consumer advocacy groups have issued strong warnings about online booking scams.
  • Members of Congress, including Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) have also directly requested that the FTC investigate these deceptive practices.
  • In December, the Federal Trade Commission settled a federal lawsuit with Reservation Counter, LLC, a third-party hotel booking reseller accused of using call centers and websites to mislead consumers into believing they were booking, and speaking, directly with a hotel. Reservation Counter also did not disclose that a traveler’s credit card would be charged immediately instead of upon check-in. The settlement resulted in Reservation Counter no longer being able to mislead consumers through these types of practices.
  • AHLA applauds the FTC’s action, which has brought renewed attention to this issue. The fact that nearly one in four consumers reports being misled by third-party travel resellers, and the constant flow of new companies entering the online travel market, suggests we need to do more to protect consumers.
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Technology and the ever-evolving online channels, from desktops to mobile phones to internet-enabled devices like smartwatches, have transformed the way guests book their hotel rooms and created new customer-oriented business models. As more channels and new players enter the digital marketplace, our industry aims to educate consumers on how to protect their reservations and ensure their experiences are what they intended.

Talking Points

Members only resource offering high level bullet points on the key issues affecting our industry today.

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