Saturday, April 2, 2011

Overpromising and Underdelivering

My motel manager contacted  me yesterday to say that she received a phone call  inquiry that started off with the usual script of asking about tariff and availability. Towards the end of the phone conversation the caller asked about the "75 percent discount that the motel was advertising on the internet."

Not surprisingly this got my manager somewhat flummoxed and more than likely irritated the guest when a mandatory 75 percent discount was not deducted from the tariff already quoted.

So what happened here?

I immediately interviewed Google by typing in a few likely search phrases that would bring up my motel and without too much manipulation all was revealed. Google Adwords appeared in the search results offering extraordinary deals of of 70-80 percent off under the banner of my motel's name. Landing pages with my motel's name as a heading placed within the main body of the search options were also offering amazing deals.

So who is spending a lot of time and money on Google Adwords and setting up landing pages that both use my motel name without permission and offer non-existent deals?

It's those pesky overseas Online Travel Agents (OTAs) lead by Orbitz owned HotelClub/RatesToGo, owned and

Admittedly this revelation came as no surprise as we touched on the subject of online "Bait Advertising" in a post last year: In Search of the mythical 75% off deal 

From what we can see a lot of OTAs are getting even more aggressive with their online marketing. They are operating in an increasingly crowded and competitive space and are intent on growing market share.

In our opinion many OTAs are crossing the line of ethical and fair business practices.

OTAs by using named accommodation properties in bait advertising would appear to have ramped this dodgy method of luring potential customers to their respective accommodation websites.

We believe that OTAs by overpromising unrealistic savings are doing a disservice to potential guests, themselves and the accommodation industry. 

We wonder where our hapless phone enquirer ended up booking accommodation after being promised so much? Maybe they got so confused and irritated that they decided to stay at home.

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