Hotel ads are misleading, says consumer group

Survey finds that prices of hotel stays advertised by travel and vacation providers are misleading.

Yam Suf Hotel 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yam Suf Hotel 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Prices of hotel stays advertised by travel and vacation providers are misleading and are posted in a deceiving manner to lure the consumer public, according to a survey published by the Israel Consumer Council on Monday.
The Israel Consumer Council warned that advertisements and promotions for hotel stays by holiday providers are deceiving since they often display the price “per person per night in a double room” rather than the final price in order to attract consumers to low prices. In addition, the survey showed that advertisements lack full information on limitations and specific conditions on the offer.
“The consumer protection act requires providers to display full and clear information in their advertisements to consumers,” said Ehud Poleg, director of the Israel Consumer Council. “We advise consumers to take great care when considering hotel stay advertisements and to examine and compare whether they are worthwhile once the final price is given.”
The survey conducted on the basis of advertisements for hotel stays published in the daily press from August 11 to August 18, which were followed up by telephone calls to the holiday providers, found that the price advertised was not the final price the consumer was asked to pay. The display in the advertisements of the price “per person in a double room,” or “per person in a room” is misleading and lower than the actual price since the deal always requires a minimum of two persons and hence the price will be double.
Furthermore, in many cases the offered per-person deal commits the consumer to a stay of more than one night.
The minimum requirement of a number of overnight stays is often not displayed as part of the price condition in the advertisement, said the Consumer Council.
For example, travel agency Flying Carpet posted a deal for a hotel stay for NIS 399 per person per night in a double room when the actual price was NIS 2,220 since there was a commitment of three nights which was not mentioned in the offer. Similarly, holiday provider Eshet Tours posted an advertisement for a hotel stay for NIS 444 per person per night in a double room, while the actual price was NIS 2,664 since it is conditioned on a minimum stay of three nights, which again was not posted as part of the advertisement.
Single occupancy would have cost NIS 2,397, which is 10 percent less than the offer.
The August survey carried out by Geocartografia also found that 57% of the consumer public is misled by the price display of “per person per night in a double room.”
In response to the question of price display preference, 66% said they would prefer advertisements to show the price per night in a double room for a couple.
In reaction to the survey, the Israel Hotel Association said the that survey was referring only to hotel prices advertised by travel agencies and not advertisements by hotels. The association said that the price display of “per person in a double room” in Hebrew was the adaptation of what is known as single occupancy in the hotel terminology around the world adding that the hotel industry might consider looking into a better term in Hebrew. With regard to the minimum hotel stay condition, the association said it had sent a reminder to the hotels at the beginning of the summer requesting them to clearly state the conditions of all deals including minimum stay requirements in every advertisement.
Back in February this year the commissioner in charge of consumer protection at the Minister of Industry Trade and Labor to issued a reminder to the heads of the hoteliers and travel agents associations about the importance of accurate advertising following an array of complaints of misleading prices in hotel advertising.
The complaints revealed that prices quoted for a single night in a hotel in commercials in newspapers and online, proved to be substantially lower than the actual prices charged by the hotels. An investigation by the commissioner’s office showed that the advertised prices were conditioned by limitations, like length of duration.