Do online travel sites serve up biased information?

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A cyber war has erupted in recent weeks between major OTAs such as Expedia and and hotel chains over how some discounts are being offered. Consumers, for their part, are caught in the middle of a fight many have no idea even exists.

The stakes are high for hotel companies, which can lose bookings when the travel sites alter their search results. According to the industry data firm STR, hotel chains in the U.S. collected $142.6 billion in room revenue last year, compared with $132.8 billion in 2014.

It’s believed the OTAs collect more than $1 billion in revenue annually on the hotels’ behalf – money that doesn’t make it into hotel coffers when guests pay for their stays in advance. When a consumer pays after his or her stay is complete, the hotels return some of the money collected back to the travel agencies.

“It’s a shame because the consumer uses these [OTA] platforms because they trust the brand to give them a wide variety of choices to choose from and because of the dimming that’s taken away,” said Gino Engles, co-founder of OTA Insight.

Get the full story at CBS Money Watch

Read also “How OTAs manipulate hotel search results”

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