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5 Tricks How Hotel Chains Cheat on You With Travel Apps

Julia Beyers Aug 23, 2019
The significance of the travel apps is obvious enough, they provide you with essential information, making a trip to a given location, helping you make hotel bookings, and giving you deals on flights. The apps are every traveler’s ‘savior’.
Travel apps have revolutionized the hospitality and travel industry for the better. The significance of travel apps is obvious enough, they provide essential information, make a trip to a given location, help you make hotel bookings, and give you deals on flights. The apps are every traveler’s ‘savior’.
Despite all the accolades and praise that travel apps have received for their convenience, not all their services are as legit as they seem to be. Some offers and promotions on the show are deceptive and are only meant to push you to book into specific hotels and destinations.
According to recent reports, some hotels and tourist destinations are conspiring with some of the popular travel apps to mislead customers and trick them into booking certain hotels, destinations in the guise of non-existent promotions and offers.
In a recent report by Travel + Leisure, hotels use their online booking sites and travel apps to create a buzz and earn customers by lying about exact number of people who have booked into their facilities. The report by Travel +Leisure elicited an uproar online which saw authorities investigate the claims and the results are shocking.
The Competition and Markets Authority conducted independent investigation on UK hospitality industry, and their findings paint a picture of hotels using tricks to earn customers. How exactly do hotels use travel apps to trick people? Here are top 5 tricks how hotels cheat you with travel apps.

Use of Pressure Selling

To encourage more customers to book into their rooms, some hotels lie about actual number of vacant rooms left in their hotels. When using travel apps to book into such hotels, you always get alerts warning you about the limited number of places left.
These lies create pressure on those intending to book into the rooms and more often than not, they end up booking these rooms as they fear getting locked out.
This marketing gimmick is a carbon copy of the famed real estate selling technique where agents lie about the occupancy of newly constructed flats to lure more customers into renting the property. By creating a false impression of occupancy, agents ended up moving their units faster.
Hotels have borrowed a leaf from the big lousy agent’s book, and they are using it to earn customers.

Use of Hidden Fees

Hotel chains also use hidden fees on the travel apps and their booking sites to create the impression that their services offer discounts, when in truth, they are not offering any discounts and are actually hiding the actual fees.
According to the Competition and Markets Authority, hotels use travel apps for advertising the cost of their services but don’t disclose the whole amounts that customers need to pay at the end of their stay. If a hotel offers a room at $100 a night, then there could be another $40-$50 per night in extra fees.
Some most common hidden fees that hotels take advantage of include: resort fee, wifi fee, early check-in fee, and extra person fees charged on those carrying a friend or family member to the hotel. These are fees which can trouble the customers if they don’t have extra cash with them.

False Positive Reviews

Another way hotels are using travel apps to trick you into buying their services is through fake reviews on the apps. When choosing the right hotel for holidays, people use the rating system provided by the travel apps and many reviews, supposedly given by those who have been to the same hotels earlier.
Although some of the reviews on travel apps are honest, there have been cases of hotel chains paying random people to write positive reviews about their services so that they could get better ratings.
A famous example is The Shed Hotel in London, which used fake reviews to become the number one rated restaurant in London even though it was fake. Although travel apps have put measures into place to stamp out the malpractice, some hotels are still using these reviews to mislead customers.

Influencer Decisions

Although some people might argue that the use of influencers to market hotel services is legitimate, some hotels are using influencers to trick customers. Big Instagram celebrities, Youtube travel vloggers, and Facebook personalities are some of the most popular influencers used by travel apps and hotels to lure you.
An influencer will be given free services at a hotel for a week or a few days, and in return, they are supposed to write a review or record a video documenting their stay at the hotel.
Although for most parts the videos are honest and helpful, some influencers receive payment from hotels in the past to infuse positivity into the reviews and include subtle exaggerations into the blog posts and videos to convince consumers into booking hotels.
Using misleading information is unethical and leads to disappointments from customers who end up visiting the hotels based on influencers' review. The CMA and other regulatory bodies are cracking the whip on such cheats, and anyone found guilty will receive legal punishment.

Overbooking on Travel Apps

In this age of travel apps, overbooking is a big problem, especially for hotels, and some seem to be riding the wave on purpose. During peak season, hotels roll out available rooms to travel apps but don’t limit the number of customers who can book into the hotels.
Hotels, thus, end up overbooking on the premise that not all guests will show up. If all guests show up, the hotels are forced to ‘walk’ some of the guests by booking them into nearby hotels and pay for rooms whose quality is often below the ones they booked into earlier.
Overbooking through travel apps is very inconveniencing and leaves many guests stranded. To avoid falling victim of such a scam, ensure that you make a reservation for a room on the hotel’s official website rather than through third-party apps. In case of overbooking, you will always get priority.


Travel apps help put everything under one roof, but they have their share of flaws. Therefore, you should be very cautious not to fall for the tricks that hotel chains use to trick you into booking when using these apps to plan your trip.
It is advised to call hotel customer service upfront to confirm offers or exact number of hotel rooms available. It is also wise to read reviews with care as you can never tell which reviews are fake and which are real.
Hotel chains using these negative marketing tactics to lure customers should be on high alert as well, as authorities are swooping in to root out the culture, tainting the name of honest hoteliers.