Hilton to cut ties with 'rip off' online travel firms

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Hilton joined the swelling ranks of hoteliers threatening to pull their services from online travel companies that they claim rip off their customers.

Hilton joined the swelling ranks of hoteliers threatening to pull their services from online travel companies that they claim rip off their customers.

David Michels, the chief executive of Hilton, hit out yesterday at websites that create "customer confusion and limit choice". He said: "Some distributors increasingly promote hotels that deliver them the highest margin, rather than offer full choice to customers. We will cut ties with any distributor that misrepresents our products in any way. Unreasonable practices regarding our customers and our hotels need to be nipped in the bud."

The move echoes that of InterContinental Hotels, which last month said it was tackling the "wild west" of the internet world. It said it had concerns over "potentially unclear" marketing practices being employed by online travel companies and has withdrawn its hotels from Expedia and hotels.com.

After the 11 September attacks and the consequent slump in global tourism, hotel groups flooded travel websites with discounted room rates. But hotel groups have become disgruntled with online intermediaries buying large blocks of rooms at rock bottom prices and selling them on with a high mark up. Practices such as telling customers that hotels are full when they still have availability and steering customers towards hotel rates that give them the biggest margin, rather than offering the best value, have also caused anger. Travelocity has warned fellow online operators not to treat hotel companies as "cash cows" if they want to keep their custom.

Hilton said it had signed a deal with lastminute.com, giving it full access to its inventory. The group said it would only work with online intermediaries that show all available Hilton deals, not just those giving the highest margin to the intermediary.

Comments