If you’re booking a hotel for a summer getaway, the I-Team has learned that some travel websites may cost you hundreds of dollars more than others.
For a quick trip to Portland, Diane Herscovitch knew she wanted to stay at a Kimpton hotel, so she went online and booked it.
But later, Herscovitch noticed that nearly 25% of the cost of the stay – $490 – was for taxes and fees. She thought that seemed excessive. So Herscovitch started poking around and learned that she didn’t book directly through the hotel’s website, like she thought she had. Instead, she booked through Reservations.com, a third-party booking site, with a URL that Herscovitch says made it appear she was using the hotel’s website.
“The website address that popped up started with the name Kimpton Riverplace Hotel, so I just assumed I was on the hotel’s website,” she said.
Herscovitch says she paid $250 more in taxes and fees by booking through reservations.com than she would have by booking directly through the hotel’s website.
“I could go to the hotel’s website just as easily and do it in five minutes and make the same reservation. They didn’t do anything extra for that money,” she said.
Herscovitch isn’t alone, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a hotel industry trade group. It also hears complaints from travelers about third-party booking sites.
The group says 23% of travelers it surveyed say they’ve been misled by third-party travel sites. Nearly 50% say they were charged extra fees, and 30% say their reservations were lost, so they never got a room or a refund.
The I-Team reached out to reservations.com. The owner of the company said it takes customer satisfaction seriously. In a statement it said the fees it charges are “displayed in multiple places.” It also said its website is “clearly branded reservations.com, with no intentional resemblance to any of the hotels available for booking.”
The company issued Herscovitch a $500 refund. She said next time she’ll watch more carefully where she clicks.
“I was furious,” she said.