One of the best ways hoteliers can fight back against scam sites is through customer service. Felipe Carreras, director, eCommerce for Best Western International, urged hotels to acknowledge this is a guest issue and to look for ways to solve these problems as they appear.
“The guest is not at fault, and should not be made to feel as such,” Carreras said. “There may not be anything that can be done for the guest, in the case of an overbooking, for example, but just knowing that the hotel is working to find a solution goes a long way.”
Providing information to guests through any means possible can also help mitigate problems for the future. Some tips for guests to keep in mind while booking include:
1. Check the website URL to see that it’s a branded hotel site. Logos and images are easy to copy from one site to another, but the actual domain name cannot be hijacked and can help guests know they are in the right spot.
2. Keep in mind the old adage, “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Steep discounts that aren’t found anywhere else but on one small obscure website are a telltale sign that the site most is likely not legitimate.
3. Book ahead of time, and avoid booking in a rush. One of the easiest ways to fall prey to a scam site is by being careless and failing to double check website addresses and property information.
4. If you are suspicious of a deal found on the website, call the numbers on the site to see if is associated with the hotel, and if the answers aren’t satisfying call the hotel directly to confirm booking rates and information.
5. Encourage consumers who think they’ve found a fake booking website to contact the Federal Trade Commission and report it.