Travel

Watch Out for Online Travel Traps

Travel websites may not give you the full story on costs.

Snagging one last getaway before Labor Day sounds like an end-of summer treat, but if you spot a bargain from an online travel agency, do a little homework before you hand over your money.

A survey conducted by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that 23% of consumers reported being duped by a third-party travel reseller in 2017. While the AHLA has a vested interest in persuading consumers to book directly with its member airlines and hotels, there’s little question that some information on third-party sites is confusing at best and misleading at worst.

Some online travel agencies quote prices for a hotel stay that don’t include taxes and other fees, such as resort or destination fees, says Chris Elliott, founder of Elliott.org, a consumer advocacy organization. Some hotel websites omit this information, too, Elliot says.

Pay attention to possible search engine optimization tricks that allow online travel agencies to rise to the top of web searches, Elliott says. You should also be wary of sites that sort by price. The cheapest rate shown typically doesn’t include taxes and fees, says Robert Cole, CEO of RockCheetah, a consulting firm.

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