According to Time, one in four Americans booking a reservation thought they were using a hotel website only to find out it was another site. Once they arrive at the hotel, there would be no records of reservation or transaction. The experience is not limited to Americans. It can happen to anyone who has access to the Internet.
Guests aren’t the only ones who are affected by the situation. Even the staff at the best resort in La Union gets confused once a family or a couple of vacationers turns up at the reception and inquires about their reservation. Fortunately, you can do several things to avoid the scenario.
Below are 8 ways to protect you and your loved ones from hotel booking scams.
1. Check the URL
Before accessing or clicking on any website you find on the search result, check the URL. Secured sites will have “https://” instead of “http://” with a bunch of numbers and symbols. Moreover, there should be a lock symbol on the upper left side of the search bar. It is a sign that the site is legitimate and secure.
If the website does not have these features, then you should avoid transacting with them. The same goes for URLs with vague names that hardly anyone recognizes. These websites imitate the original site so users think it is the official website.
2. Consider the payment options
Be wary of websites that charge you for the full price of the rooms. You should also watch out for sites that ask you to settle the total amount without your consent. These are signs that the site you are transacting with a fake website.
Remember, legitimate hotels take your payment information and charge you once you arrive. Other establishments charge a deposit when you reserve a room. Meanwhile, some ask their clients to settle part of the payment. A real hotel site makes all of their conditions and payment methods clear.
3. Opt for credit card payment
Credit cards offer fraud protection better than a debit card. Thus, it’s better to use your credit card when booking a hotel. Your credit card company can help you regain your money in case it is proven to be a scam.
4. Speak to the staff
If you are having doubts about the website, you can reach out to them through the contact number they provide. Call them to ask questions about information that isn’t on the website. Recommendations for local restaurants and nearby attractions are a good place to start.
Besides the recommendations, you can call the hotel to confirm your reservation. This ensures that you have a place to stay in once you arrive. It also minimizes confusion on both parties in case a scam occurred.
5. Look for the price breakdown
Avoid websites that don’t provide a breakdown of your expenses. Think of it as your receipt. Legitimate hotel sites show you a list of fees you’re expected to pay on top of the room’s price.
Scam websites only present net prices to hook travelers. Others make the breakdown hard to locate so they can mislead those who wish to book through the site. You can only find out you’re a victim of a scam once you realize the price doesn’t make sense and the breakdown is nowhere to be found.
6. Call to book a room
Copying a hotel’s website is not the only scam tactic in the book. Third-party travel sites are also guilty of tricking users. Some websites pressure traveler by showing messages that depict scarcity. “Sale ends tonight” and “XX rooms left!” are some of the pressure tactics websites use to encourage users to get a room
Third-party websites are only selling a part of the hotel. They do not have access to the full inventory. If you want to check a room’s availability for a particular hotel, it’s best to call the hotel. You’ll know firsthand if rooms are available or not.
7. Research about the cancellation policy
Legitimate hotel websites are transparent with their accommodation policy. If you have to adjust your flight or destination, you must ensure you are entitled to cancel or modify your arrangements. Fake hotel sites and a few third-party sites don’t display cancellation policies. They also do not provide refunds or enable you to change your reservation after booking your stay. It’s best to check all of these details before clicking confirm.
8. Repeat your information details
If you are booking through third-party sites, they might not relay your information correctly. There can be errors with your name, birthday, and credit card information that can be an issue when you check in. It’s best to check in with the hotel and clarify your data to ensure you get to book a room.
With these handy tips, anyone can avoid a hotel booking scam. Share these with family and friends who wish to travel. That way, they can enjoy a hassle-free stay during their travel.