Booking tickets for flights, trains, hotels, and bus trips has become easier with the revolution of online travel booking. Simply selecting your desired route opens the door to a number of cheap rates and travel options. Seem to good to be true? Connecticut Business Bureau warns us of becoming a victim of fraud due to many fake travel booking websites.
Although booking tickets online is an efficient and accessible way for many, it is also risky if not properly researched. With tickets ranging from a few hundred to thousands of dollars, the consequences of trusting any website for one’s travel transactions are too severe.
Where do these problems typically begin? Websites offering unusually low prices, discounts, or even faster routes grab public attention and without carefully reading the terms and conditions, we may get trapped into making a quick transaction. Victims of these fake booking websites may also get charged with hidden fees or have to suffer the consequences of other unethical business practices. Online booking fraud also costs the victims’ the stress of having to find and pay the price of another ticket because their trip was actually never booked. It is important to deal with only reputable travel booking sites when exchanging such a high amount of money.
In 2015, the Better Business Bureau received more than 157,000 complaints about travel agencies and bureaus. The industry was ranked the 15th most complained-about type of business due to the amount of fake booking websites, hidden fees, use of deceiving and illegal photos of well-known hotels and resorts copied onto fake travel websites. The Federal Trade Commission caught several cases of unethical business performance by third party brokers and warned the public: “Just because a website looks like the official site of your favorite hotel chain doesn’t necessarily mean it is. Before you reserve a room make sure you know who’s at the other end of that ‘BOOK NOW’ button.”
Connecticut Better Business Bureau offers a few tips on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud and unethical business practice. These tips include, but are not limited to: booking your travel package with a reputable business, using a credit card, carefully reading the fine print of each package, don’t be too quick to accept a deal or package right away, be wary of deals that are uncharacteristically inexpensive, and call the hotel or resort directly.
It is so easy to simply type in on google a desired flight, hotel, or other means of transportation and getting a variety of results from third-party websites offering cheaper deals and tickets. Some of these sites such as on google flights show a special package that offers an exceptionally low price with hidden details on the flight itinerary until you arrive at the airport. I think that those deals and other packages with suspicious images or rates should be read carefully and if unsure, avoided because the risks of the website being fraud can be very costly. In my opinion, it is better to buy at a package or ticket at a slightly higher price that is from a reputable source rather than a cheap package or ticket from a questionable source because it will be less costly in the long run.
As discussed in our lecture, unethical business practices are still in use and can be seen in this case of third party travel booking sites using fraud to gain profit. These unethical performances harms consumers, businesses, and the future of e-commerce.