Bipartisan Senate Bill Introduced to Protect Consumers from Online Hotel Booking Scams
September 29, 2016 1:13pm
Washington, D.C. – September 29, 2016 – The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) applauded a group of bipartisan Senate leaders on the introduction of legislation aimed at stopping online hotel booking scams that affect some 15 million hotel bookings a year, translating to $1.3 billion in bad bookings annually.
The Stop Online Booking Scams Act, the Senate companion to H.R. 4526, was introduced today by Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). The bill will provide vital safeguards and take necessary corrective action to stop scammers from mimicking legitimate hotel websites and exploiting unassuming consumers. Third-party booking sites will be required to have continuous, prominent notification that their websites are not associated with a specific hotel’s website before any consumer’s credit card is charged, making it crystal clear to consumer who they are doing business with online.
“Consumers should always have the utmost confidence in the online booking process from start to finish and they should feel safe and protected when booking travel online. This legislation sends a clear message that this kind of deceptive behavior will not be tolerated,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AH&LA. “As the digital marketplace continues to grow and evolve, consumers deserve transparency, and every minute we wait to pass this commonsense legislation, more people fall victim to these deceptive practices.”
In today’s digital age, consumers rely on the comfort and ease of online hotel bookings. With online travel bookings surging over the past several years, averaging 480 hotel bookings per minute, so has the rate of scams. Research shows that an increasing number of consumers are misled into making hotel reservations through fraudulent websites and call centers that give the appearance of being a hotel’s website, but actually have no relation to the hotel.
The Federal Trade Commission, the Better Business Bureau and various other consumer advocacy groups have already issued strong warnings about these scams. And just recently, Senators Klobuchar and Fischer asked the FTC to investigate these deceptive practices.
The House version of the bill was introduced in February 2016 by Representatives Lois Frankel (FL-22) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and currently has 23 co-sponsors.
In addition to reinforcing the protections provided by the House version, the Senate companion legislation also protects against “meeting pirates,” which are third-party companies that misrepresent themselves as the official lodging provider for a given convention or trade show. Preying on lists and convention calendars, these deceptive users exploit similar tactics to lure in unsuspecting customers and dupe them out of legitimate reservations – causing extreme frustration, lost or cancelled reservations and nowhere to go in often booked-up cities.
“The problem is only getting worse. We see new dimensions to the scams—like these ‘meeting pirates’—everyday unfortunately,” said Lugar. “As long as scammers continue to get a pass, they are going to find new and more sophisticated ways of taking advantage of more travelers.”
Lugar added, “We thank Senators Daines and Nelson and again Representatives Frankel and Ros-Lehtinen, for their leadership on this critical issue and look forward to working with them and their colleagues to protect consumers by passing this important legislation.”
To view an infographic on the scope of online booking scams and how the Stop Online Booking Scams Act will protect consumers, please click here.
Tags: bipartisan senate bill,
online hotel booking scams,
american hotel & lodging association
Serving the hospitality industry for more than a century, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) is the sole national association representing all segments of the 2 million-employee U.S. lodging industry, including hotel owners, REITs, chains, franchisees, management companies, independent properties, bed and breakfasts, state hotel associations, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides focused advocacy, communications support, and educational resources for an industry of more than 55,000 properties generating $176 billion in annual sales from 5 million guestrooms.
Contact: Katie Longo
Tax Day: Hoteliers Call for More Transparency and Oversight in Taxing Airbnb
Hotel Industry Partners With Pearson to Offer Debt-Free College Degrees to Employees
AHLA Responds to Airbnb Plus & Boutique Program Announcement
AHLA's President and CEO, Katherine Lugar, Releases Statement on President Donald Trump's State of the Union
AHLA’s Financial Management Committee Issues Guidance for the New Revenue Recognition Standards
AHLA President Lugar Highlights Hotel Industry Economic Impact on Nation's Cities at U.S. Conference of Mayors
AHLA Announces 2018 Officers & Board of Directors Slate
AHLA Promotes Brian Crawford to Vice President and Department Head of Governmental Affairs
AHLA Applauds Final Passage of Tax Reform Legislation
AHLA President and CEO Katherine Lugar's Statement on Senate Passage of Tax Reform Legislation
Hotel Innovators Educate Lawmakers on Capitol Hill, Urge Support for Stop Online Booking Scams Act
AHLA and the Better Business Bureau Team Up to Fight Online Hotel Booking Scams
AHLA Celebrates National Apprenticeship Week by Launching Program and Giving $50,000 Grant
AHLA Praises House for Passing Tax Reform
Hotel Industry Teams Up With World Wildlife Fund and The Rockefeller Foundation to Reduce Food Waste
New Study Reveals Tax Reform Could Boost Hotel Industry by $131.7B
AHLA Presents $500,000 Youth Grant to Community-Based Organizations to Open Career Pathways in High-Demand Markets
AHLA President, CEO Katherine Lugar Appointed to Federal Task Force on Apprenticeship Expansion
AHLA Applauds Release of Tax Reform Proposal Allows Hotel Industry to Grow, Create New Jobs, Drive Economy
AHLEF Awards Nearly $1 Million in Scholarships to Hospitality Students
Please login or register to post a comment.