18 June 2019
In The Sunday Times this week (Sunday 16 June) you may have seen the coverage regarding Eleanor Thompson and how she had booked a place to stay for her friend’s hen party via Booking.com, only to be informed just a few weeks before travel that she will need to pay an additional £275 in order to secure the booking. We are hearing about more and more occurrences like this and it’s important to remember that the transaction is always with the end user; the platform will rarely get involved and take any form of responsibility.
So how do you protect yourself?
If you’re a host ensure that you have appropriately listed your property on the site; available dates and prices are up to date and that your terms and conditions are also displayed. That way in the case of an incident, the customer has had the opportunity to view and agreed to what those terms are. Initiate your standard complaints procedure and review where things went wrong with the platform too. If something is missing or ambiguous, rectify it as soon as possible to prevent another incident from occurring.
If you’re a consumer using an online platform to book your stay, please undertake a level of due diligence on the property. Online platforms are merely a selling tool to allow operators to showcase their properties and provide a way for you to buy. Many of the properties are legitimate, bone fide and run by professional operators, but there are cases of more opportunist providers using these platforms as a way to rent their property to you without basic safety checks being undertaken. Take a further look online and see where else the property is listed, talk to them and ask if they have fire safety certificates and appropriate insurance. Professional operators will have no problem showing you their certification.
Our quality assurance standard goes one step further and considers a customer’s experience of the property; customer service, facilities on offer, breakfast provided.
We are working with Government departments and our Primary Authority partners Cornwall Council to bring about a change in the current legislation to help protect consumers and hosts alike. There is currently a significant gap between the more ‘traditional’ tourism operators and those operating in the sharing economy, leaving both hosts and consumers vulnerable and unsure.
For more information regarding our schemes please visit our quality assessment section.