Online travel agents have been accused of overbooking hotel accommodation this summer, leaving customers stranded.
Booking.com, Hotels.com and others have allegedly taken bookings for hotels without rooms, hotels that are closed – and even one that had been taken over by the Government for quarantining international arrivals.
A report in the Guardian highlighted the plight of one family who drove all the way to Cornwall to find that their hotel, secured through Booking.com six months previously, had no record of their reservation.
When contacted by the family, Booking.com secured them another hotel – in Uxbridge in west London.
Booking.com blamed the hotel for the mix-up, but the OTA later refunded the family’s expenses and paid £700 compensation.
The OTA told Travel Gossip: “Our primary aim is to enable smooth and enjoyable travel experiences for our customers, which unfortunately did not happen on this occasion. We have reached out to this customer to offer a full refund as well as a gesture of goodwill. In exceptional circumstances where a property is unable to accommodate a guest we always seek to rectify that immediately and will be working with this partner to ensure all future guests have a good experience.”
Another Booking.com customer turned up at a west London hotel to find a note on the door saying it was closed for maintenance. The OTA has since refunded her costs, according to the Guardian.
Customers who have booked through other OTAs have experienced similar problems this summer, and they say the problems have been compounded by their inability to immediately make contact with the booking platforms involved.
Travel Gossip heard this weekend that another west London hotel turned away 40 guests who’d booked via an OTA because it was already full. The hotel told them it had informed the OTA two days’ earlier that it no longer had available rooms but it had continued to take bookings.
One woman who reserved a room in Solihull in the West Midlands via Hotels.com arrived to find that it had been turned into a quarantine hotel. She received a refund and an £80 voucher and, after pressure from the Guardian, Hotels.com covered the additional £324 she paid for an alternative hotel.
Hotels.com told Travel Gossip: “We are really sorry to hear that on this occasion the customer had a bad experience with us. We have investigated this issue and unfortunately the hotel did not inform us they were no longer accepting bookings until the day after the customer was due to stay. That said, we have refunded the customer for their stay, issued a voucher of goodwill and will be reimbursing them for the additional cost of the hotel they had to book”.