KwikChex has once again assisted BBC investigative journalists, providing information on problems with online reviews websites.
Director and Co-Founder of KwikChex, Chris Emmins was also interviewed on Adrian Goldberg’s programme. – discussing how TripAdvisor prioritise Online Travel Agents (OTAs) that pay TripAdvisor in their search results.
TripAdvisor now prefers consumers to see ‘deals’ from their OTA commercial partners rather than the old ‘Popularity Rankings’ which came from reviews. Their usual default result is titled ‘Best Value’ when consumers search for hotels in any given location. But Best Value is not quantified with any real substance and the rankings are generated in part by the amount an OTA is bidding. There are worrying aspects about the system, which is a money-driver for TripAdvisor.
The rankings change all the time and vary according to how consumers are searching – the devices they use, whether they click on an advert etc., so ‘Best Value’ rankings are inconsistent
TripAdvisor does not make clear to consumers that the rankings are affected by how much OTAs are paying.
The considerable budgets of the powerful OTAs, combined with the huge online influence of TripAdvisor puts hotels at a disadvantage – particularly smaller independent ones as hotels are having to pay huge commissions.
There are inconsistencies as to how a result is regarded as ‘Best Value’.
Prices displayed are all too often shown without the added substantial taxes that are payable.
KwikChex has met with the UK Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) to discuss these findings and an initial report by the CMA on OTAs, which is likely to encompass their relationship with TripAdvisor is due to be made public soon.