FRLA Communications Director
(Tallahassee, FL) – As families book vacations this summer, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is continuing to warn consumers about fraudulent hotel booking practices. Nationally, it is estimated by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) that there are 2.5 million bookings a year that are deceptive, which amounts to $220 million. With one in three travelers booking online, FRLA and AH&LA want to ensure that consumers don’t suffer the consequences from lost rooms, bad bookings, cancellation fees and charges. Earlier this month, the Florida Congressional Delegation sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting an investigation into these practices.
“These fraudulent vendors are putting consumers at risk. They’re tricking guests by offering bad deals disguised as discounts, creating false identities and using questionable privacy practices. We commend the Florida Congressional Delegation for urging the FTC to open an investigation. We want visitors to experience the exceptional accommodations we have here in Florida and we aim to help protect them from these scammers,” said Carol Dover, President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.
The following is a list of tips for consumers planning to book hotels online:
- Beware of where you book: Make sure you know who you are dealing with. Third party vendors often make promises they cannot keep, and they likely cannot help if something goes wrong.
- Book direct: Consumers should book directly with the hotel either via web or phone to avoid being scammed. This is always the safest bet and will ensure you are protected and get the best value.
- Only use trusted sites: Although the hotel’s name may be part of the URL, double check the website address to ensure it’s not a third-party vendor.
- Be sure you call the hotel directly and ask the right questions when booking to ensure you protect your information, your reservation, your points and your credit information.
- What is the cancellation/trip change policy? Most of these third party booking sites don’t allow cancellations, changes, or any sort of refunds.
- Is the site, in any way, affiliated with the hotel? If no, your points may not be honored.
- Is it a secure payment site? The URL should have a small lock and should start with https:// as opposed to just http://.
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission: If a vendor has misrepresented itself to you or if you’ve fallen victim to a hotel booking scam, contact the FTC to alert them to the issue. Visit ftc.gov/complaint to file your complaint.
About the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association
FRLA is Florida’s premier non-profit hospitality industry trade association. Our mission is to ‘Protect, Educate and Promote’ Florida’s $82 billion hospitality industry which represents 23% of Florida’s economy and more than 1.1 million employees – making it the state’s number one industry. We offer regulatory compliance and food safety training needs (RCS and SafeStaff®); industry developed career-building high school programs (FRLAEF); sponsor the only event in Florida exclusively serving the restaurant and foodservice industry (FR&L Show, October 6-8, 2015 in Orlando); and we safeguard the needs of the hospitality industry by providing legislative advocacy. We represent and serve more than 10,000 independent and household name members, suppliers, and theme parks. For more information, go to www.FRLA.org and find us on Twitter @FRLAnews, Facebook and YouTube.