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One hotels (very) negative experience with Expedia.

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by LarryInNYC, Dec 27, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Just wanted to let people see this article which discusses a really terrible experience one small Playa del Carmen hotel had with Expedia:


    I don't know the hotel myself (I received the link forwarded from a friend who, I think, has stayed there). There's a lot of purple prose in the article but if even half the things alleged are true Expedia really sounds pretty awful.

    Note that, in addition to all the problems that affected the hotel owners, they claim that numerous smaller hotels in Playa are similarly shown as completely booked on Expedia when they actually have rooms available. If true, it means that, as a traveler, your choice of hotels is severely and falsely restricted.

    Also, if you tend (as I do) to stay at small, independently run hotels it's always a good idea to book directly with the hotel. That way they get a lot more of the money from the booking, they can offer lower rates, and you have the opportunity to establish a personal connection in advance of your visit.
    HNL, MX, Kalboz and 8 others like this.
  2. iolaire
    • Original Member

    iolaire Gold Member

    I completely beleive their story.
    MX, Kalboz, canucklehead and 4 others like this.
    • Original Member

    LETTERBOY Gold Member

    It's a good idea to book directly through the travel operator for ALL hotel/airline/travel reservations, IMO. If something goes wrong, it's much more complicated to fix, since you have to go through the place you bought the reservation from. I learned that lesson the hard way when a reservation I made at Harrahs in Las Vegas through booking.com got messed up.
    MX, guinnessxyz, rwoman and 3 others like this.
  4. catgirl
    • Original Member

    catgirl Gold Member

    Wow. What a horrible story. I have met the owners of the Luna Blue a few times while vacationing in Playa and they are such nice people. I completely believe the story. I hope that they and the other hotels affected recover. Playa is truly one of my favorite places.

    I try to mix-up my hotels stays from big chains to smaller, local independent hotels when I travel. When I am seeking out a smaller hotel, I always book directly with the hotel versus Expedia, Booking.com, etc. I know too many people that have had issues with hotels when booked through one of booking engine giants.

    Same thing with booking air, I try to book directly with the airline.
    LETTERBOY, iolaire and canucklehead like this.
  5. stackm

    stackm Active Member

    I can't help but notice that EXPE stock is one of the best performers in the market, up over 100% this year. That said, I don't see how the company itself is a good investment, given the competition and the fact that their customers get 1) poorer service and 2) higher prices versus transacting with the hotel directly. Stories like this would certainly have me questioning my investment if I were a shareholder.
  6. Jenny & Curt
    • Original Member

    Jenny & Curt Gold Member

    We booked a last-minute stay in New Zealand on Expedia. Unfortunately, the rate on Expedia was significantly lower than the hotel's own website, and we didn't have the ability to call the hotel, so we went for the lower Expedia rate. When we arrived, the hotelier told us he pays Expedia 50%, and I felt really bad. But he should at least make sure his own rate is equal to Expedia's. Had it been, we would have booked directly.
    MX, catgirl and iolaire like this.
  7. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    I never like to see small businesses suffer. Indeed, they pay a lot to Expedia/Orbitz/etc for worldwide publicity.

    However, when you sell through someone else's portal, you really have just one customer - the portal. They set the rules - and can turn you off like a switch (just like any customer can).

    Hoteliers should consider redeploying some of the money they put into these high commissions into other advertising methods. While in some ways commissions are easier - you're only paying when the customer comes - it really is the lazy-man's approach to marketing.

    While many like to lambast these booking portals, a) they're not making excess profits (otherwise many others would be chomping at their tails - the Internet makes for a very efficient marketplace) and b) have their reputation on the line with every independent hotel out there that is on their platform (We've all heard, "I had a bad experience at that hotel Orbitz recommended - I will never book on Orbitz again!").

    Sadly there is no right answer. In the case of the immediately prior post, had the hotelier kept his/her website up-to-date on prices, they would have avoided the commission altogether.

    There's no right or wrong in these situations...but it is in no way a one sided situation.

    The best thing customers can do - if they feel the desire to support independent hotels - is simply call them direct once they've found them on the aggregation sites. Remind them of the 30% +/- commission they'll pay if you book via an aggregation portal and ask for a 15% discount for yourself for a direct booking.
    catgirl and 8MiHi like this.
  8. view
    • Original Member

    view Silver Member

    This story is completely plausible. Expedia are known for these kind of mafia tactics. Here in Scandinavia Expedia and wholly owned subsidiary Hotels.com are currently fighting it out with the local hotel chains. More than 50 % of hotel rooms are no longer available on Expedia as the chains have started ending their agreements with them. Nordic Choice, First Hotels, Scandic and Thon Hotels are no longer selling rooms through Expedia.

    Guess what Expedia´s response was? Mark those hotels as sold out... suggest other options in that city... all while the actual hotels were wide open for booking on their own sites. Expedia has since been forced to remove hotels not for sale from their site.

    The main point of disagreement between Expedia and hotels was so-called rate parity. Expedia will not accept that any hotel offers specials (lower rates) on their own site than on Expedia.com. Since Expedia get up to 30% of the sale (figure from local press) one can understand why hotels want to drive business to their own sites.

    In a market like Scandinavia with very little international chain representation the hotel chains have the power to make such bold moves and end all dealings with the world´s largest online hotel site. For global hotel brands I guess that prospect would make any sales director tremble.
    Kalboz, iolaire, rwoman and 1 other person like this.
  9. estnet
    • Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

    It is really a quandry - I'm on the side of the small business person, but a low priced hotel I frequent in Thailand is cheaper booked thru agoda or hotels.com than booking with the hotel directly. I've asked them about this and they agree it is strange - but the people working the front desk don't know the answer:(
    edog22, Kalboz and iolaire like this.
  10. I agree. Of course you always have the bottom feeder class who look for ways to screw airlines and hotels by using booking agents as shields to push their agendas. We have at least one such character on this board who pretends it is truth in advertising he is after:rolleyes:

    If one books a flight on AC through an agent you cannot make any changes w/o going back through that agent. Even upgrade requests and seat changes need to be routed through the agent or at least was that way a few months back.
    Kalboz and LETTERBOY like this.
  11. You are correct about the internet being a very efficient marketplace. The effort by the consumer should be to verify WHAT they are buying in comparative terms and how ethical the vendor/agent is, if they care. The expedias of the world do appear to need some regulation because it appears they abuse small hotels with blackmail tactics like showing them full when they don't play ball and/or highlighting other nearby hotels to put pressure on the smaller guy.
    I see class action suits by some enterprising lawyers.
    LETTERBOY and NYBanker like this.
  12. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Online hotel booking doesn't need further regulation. When one online agency controls 80% of total hotel bookings, maybe regulation is in order...but there have been small inns since well before Expedia.com....grown ups should be able to figure this out.

    Small innkeepers that can't figure out how to fill rooms through means other than aggregation sites should consider listing their property for sale.
    LETTERBOY likes this.
  13. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Good to hear.
  14. kwai
    • Original Member

    kwai Gold Member

    This is counter to my experience where Agoda bookings in Asia are a good deal for more expensive properties but actually more expensive for cheaper properties.
  15. estnet
    • Original Member

    estnet Gold Member

    Yes it is/was quite surprising to me too - and I've only found it for this one property.
  16. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    Personally, I feel that several of the allegations in the post I linked to, if true, are clearly and absolutely wrong. In particular, if Expedia chooses no to the offer a hotel through their service, fine. But to continue listing the hotel as if it were perennially full in order to deceitfully drive business away from the hotel is (in my book, anyway) fraud. And vindictive. It skates very close to extortion and perhaps crosses that line. Note that this behavior is independently reported, in this thread, in a completely different market (Scandinavia).
  17. FlyingBear
    • Original Member

    FlyingBear Silver Member

    I've seen this behavior for some hotels before as well, leading me to believe that hotel had no room, when in fact it does. I am not aware of the actual reason it was shown that way in those instances, but even in itself its a questionable practice without some sort of notification.
    iolaire likes this.
  18. lisamcgu
    • Original Member

    lisamcgu Gold Member

    I used to place groups in hotels, so I knew, but I thought everyone knew that if the hotel is full on Expedia, it may not be on another site or with the property itself. And vice versa by the way. Anyway, this just happened to us with a Disneyland hotel. I searched around before calling them directly to make sure I could negotiate the best deal. Along with a dedicated agency that handles just their properties, one can book on online sites. I kept calling back their agency until one of them gave me the rate I wanted, just like I used to do with Vegas hotels.
    LETTERBOY and iolaire like this.
  19. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Fraud? Isn't Expedia just showing that Expedia doesn't have rooms available from a given hotel? Slimy, yes...but fraud?

    Are restaurants that withhold certain tables/times from OpenTable defrauding OT users?
    LETTERBOY likes this.
  20. FlyingBear
    • Original Member

    FlyingBear Silver Member

    Nice sleight of hand, try harder next time. No, they are not defrauding OT users, since this is not comparable situation. If the restaurants told OT that they have tables open and OT purposely did not show them as available, then OT would be defrauding the restaurants and lying to the travelers.

    In your examples, both OT and Expedia are the middle men. Restaurants and hotels are the service providers, while hungry people and travelers are customers seeking those services. No need to force analogy and re-assign everyone's roles. If OT acted like Expedia, restaurants would have full right to be upset. You might not like word "fraud", but there are other ones that can be used with legal ramifications, like willful misrepresentation with intent to cause economic harm.
    HaveMilesWillTravel likes this.
  21. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    Not trying any slight of hand here, mate. Calling you out on your use of the word fraud. Misused, just as some people call tight connections "illegal."

    Are you suggesting Expedia is harming hotels, guests or both? And to whom do you feel Expedia owes an affirmative duty?
    LETTERBOY likes this.
  22. LarryInNYC

    LarryInNYC Gold Member

    I certainly think it's fraud to suggest that Expedia is a booking agent for the hotel and has sold its allotment of rooms when, in fact, Expedia has decided to not to act as a booking agent for the hotel, has no knowledge of the inventory of the hotel, and is attempting to falsely steer people to other hotels more advantageous to them (again, always assuming the allegations in the original article are true -- I have no direct knowledge of that).

    If Expedia is not representing the hotel, they should not return results for the hotel. Otherwise, why wouldn't they base their business on the idea that they list all hotels, including ones that they have never had a relationship with, and then demand vigilance money to actually indicate that rooms might be available.

    An equally interesting (but different) question is whether, for hotels that actually do participate, the hotel booking sites ought to try to let users know that rooms may still be available directly from the hotel even if the site's allotment has been sold.
  23. FlyingBear
    • Original Member

    FlyingBear Silver Member

    First of all, pay close attention, you did not call me out on anything. Yep, go ahead, see who you quoted first with the word "fraud".

    Second, you are absolutely trying a "sleight of hand" by doing a false analogy in what should've been a very clear cut comparison. I even broke it down for you. Your comparison was simply wrong and misplaced the roles of the players in the situation.

    If Expedia is indeed, on purpose, showing hotels as fully booked when they know that the hotels are not fully booked, Expedia is directly harming the hotels they have a business association with. This a contract issue (yep, that's a legal problem). Guests are obviously harmed as well, but not in a way that can easily be made a legal dispute. Of course, it can easily be made a PR nightmare.
    NYBanker and HaveMilesWillTravel like this.
  24. NYBanker
    • Original Member

    NYBanker Gold Member

    I doubt Expedia's contract with hotels has provisions that say "Expedia will ever harm a member hotel" or "Expedia will never show a hotel as unavailable when Expedia knows rooms are available." There may, however, be some generic "good faith" language in the agreement which an innkeeper could hang her hat on.

    Is this a slimy practice of theirs? Absolutely. Is it a breach of a specific law or contractual provision? Iffy. Could an independent hotel find a sympathetic local court, regardless of the contract language? Probably. Would a presumably struggling hotelier (would they care if they weren't struggling?) have the wherewithal to effectively chase this? Unfortunately, probably not.
    LETTERBOY likes this.

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