Planning Your Summer Vacation?
Planning Your Summer Vacation? Be VERY Careful Of Online Booking SitesThe kids are out of school. You and your spouse finally got your work schedules coordinated… and it looks like your family can take some much-deserved time away from the hectic day-to-day schedules and just enjoy building memories in a wonderful vacation. … But not so fast. Before you whip out your credit card and start looking online to book a hotel, you need to be extremely careful of a huge scam going on right now. It’s scary, and frankly I think it’s going to get MUCH worse. In 2015, The American Hotel and Lodging Association released a study that has alarming consequences for those of us who like to plan our vacations in advance. The study (which was reported in BusinessInsider) found that 15 million hotel bookings each year were impacted by deceptive techniques. In other words, websites and call centers would pretend to represent a hotel and would happily take your booking, and even your credit card. But they weren’t really employees of the hotel, they may or may not even be affiliated with the hotel. Some companies might have an affiliate relationship (where they take the booking, pass it on to the hotel, and accept a small commission), while other companies might have no affiliation at all. The result? If you book through one of these companies you might find out the hard way that your vacation is not what you hoped: 32% of people in the study received a different room than they expected, which isn’t very pleasant, but let’s talk about an even more concerning issue: 17% were charged unexpected fees, 14% couldn’t get a refund for cancelling, 9% had their reservations lost or cancelled, and 3% had their personal information stolen. Planning a wonderful vacation for your family could turn into a costly disaster before you even get on the airplane! There are many reasons why this happens but one of the biggest reasons is: these companies are pretending to be part of the hotel chain so you assume that they will keep your personal information and credit card information safe, yet they could just be some kid in his parent’s basement with the ability to make a nice looking website that convinces you that he’s affiliated with the hotel. Even if he passes through your booking information correctly (there’s no guarantee of that), he likely doesn’t have the internet security in place to protect your personal information. Even if you show up and are in the 68% of people who got the room they wanted, you could still end up with hidden fees. How can you shop for hotels safely? The best answer is to book directly from the hotel or do your research and make sure it is a reputable site that we all have used for many years. I don’t want to discourage you from any online booking, just the one’s that seem to good to be true.
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