I’m excited to announce the launch of a new consumer campaign today, Search Smarter aimed at helping consumers look out for scams and misleading advertising practices as they book their summer travel season.
We launched this effort today in New York with over two dozen broadcast news segments around the country in key markets followed by a roundtable with print reporters and bloggers from a dozen national outlets.
Watch this video to learn more about the campaign.
This campaign, founded in focus group research with consumers and supplemented by a national poll, shows that online scams and fraudulent sites are on the rise.
In 2015, just six percent of American travelers reported having booked on what they believed was a hotel’s official website, only to find they had booked on a fraudulent site – websites that use a variety of marketing tactics to mimic hotel websites but are not, in fact, affiliated with the hotel. Just two years later, the number of travelers reporting that same experience has nearly quadrupled to 22 percent. Today, an average of 55 million “bad” bookings of this type are made each year, costing some $3.9 billion.
Furthermore, new evidence reveals consumers are not getting the deals they think they are from third-party booking sites. Our poll details the extent to which online travel agencies can mislead consumers, revealing that 74 percent of travelers have less confidence booking with these sites after learning more about the prevalence of scams and deceptive marketing tactics. You can read our press release here.
As part of our campaign, we have been reaching out to consumer groups to enlist their support along with other key influencers, including CBS’s Peter Greenberg.
See his tease story that aired this weekend on CBS This Morning.
In the segment, he talks about new opportunities for consumers to benefit from researching the hotel’s websites for deals, instead of using only OTA’s, and recommends consumers call hotels directly to book direct instead of through an OTA. He also emphasizes consolidation in the OTA marketplace, and suggest that they may not have all the best options for consumers.
Throughout the coming months, we’ll keep you posted on our press outreach as we target other markets and audiences. You can get more information here.
In the meantime, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out.