Hotel booking websites including Expedia, Trivago and Booking.com are being investigated by Britain's competition watchdog. The Competition and Markets Authority said it was concerned about the use of techniques such as 'pressure selling', the way discounts are applied and how hotels are ranked in search results.
The regulator has written to companies in the sector demanding information on their marketing practices. It also wants to hear from consumers and hotels about their experience using the sites.
The investigation will seek to examine how much search results are influenced by the amount of commission hotels pay the sites and whether claims about how many people are looking at a room or how many rooms are available rush consumers into hasty decisions. It will also look at the accuracy of discount claims and the use of hidden charges, including taxes and booking fees.
The sector is dominated by US giants Priceline Group, owner of Booking.com, Kayak and Agoda, and Expedia, which owns Hotels.com and Trivago.
Alex Neill, managing director of home products and services at consumer group Which?, said: "We found evidence of booking sites using pressure selling tactics and making claims about discount deals that don't add up. If the CMA finds breaches of consumer law, they should take enforcement action against those sites."
◼ You'll have none of these problems when booking with DialAFlight - just great personal service, expert help, honest answers to all your questions and an experienced back-up service if anything goes wrong.
Our Olympic hero Sir Mo Farah loves his holiday burgers when he's not running up and down the dunes in Dubai
Your first holiday memories Growing up in Somalia, I lived in a shack with a tin roof and eight people to a bedroom, so going on holiday wasn't really an option. When I moved to Britain, school holidays were a time for visiting other family members in London, not for jetting off to stay in some nice hotel. My kids have already been to Miami and Hawaii, and my oldest has been to Disneyland Paris... I'm so happy they get to do what I couldn't as a kid.
What are holidays like now? Tania and I have four children under the age of 12, so holidays are pretty full on. They have unbelievable amounts of energy, so in Miami while everyone else is reading books and sunbathing by the pool, I'm running around on the beach, playing with the kids, kicking a football. I'm away training or competing seven months of the year so holidays are my big chance to spend time with the kids.
What do you do on holiday? Even on holiday, I run every day. It's probably why I get through a pair of trainers every week. One of the most spectacular places I've run is on the beach in Dubai, with all those amazing buildings rising almost straight out of the sea. Even though I don't drink, I'm pretty sociable so you'll often find me at the hotel bar chatting with people.
What do you eat on holiday? I love trying out new food. I'll eat pretty much anything, and I think, because I travel so much, my body is used to strange foods. I never really get sick and burgers are my ultimate holiday treat, especially as I can't really eat them during the racing season.
Do you like flying? People who travel a lot often complain about planes and airports, but I like them. I love movies, so being on a plane is like being in the cinema. Passport control can be a bit of a pain, but maybe now that I have become a knight, it'll be different. Having the word 'Sir' on my passport should help.
Your favourite destination? Dubai is somewhere I'd definitely like to go back to with the kids. There is so much to do out there, with loads of water parks and beaches and water skiing and camel trekking. The hotels are out of this world as well. Tania and I had an awesome day out in the desert. I did a bit of running up and down the dunes, then we raced around in dune buggies, which was so much fun.
A selection of customer comments from Trustpilot
I have recently travelled to Australia, flights and accommodation organised and arranged by Sam Swain from DialAFlight. Prior to contacting DialAFlight I did not have experience of booking long haul flights or accommodation in a different country on my own. I was quite overwhelmed by the amount of information and deals on the internet that I did not know what to go for or what to trust. DialAFlight was recommended to me by a close relative and I am so glad I got to know about this company. Sam was brilliant. He was attentive, he listened to me and dealt with all my enquiries with great professionalism. I felt assured that I was getting a good deal with DialAFlight and as a result, I had the best time while I was away. I cannot recommend Sam and DialAFlight highly enough. I will definitely use their travel services again in the future.Jenna gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot. Sparkling footnote: Jenna's name was pulled out of the hat in our monthly Trust Pilot draw and a case of Prosecco is on its way.
Larry at DialAFlight saved our lives on the day that Monarch ceased trading. We were due to fly from Birmingham to Tenerife the next morning, and although we were online quite early in the morning what few flights were left were disappearing before our eyes. I rang DialAFlight at about 8.45 in desperation, and within quite a short time he found us return flights from Cardiff. Yes, they were expensive but included a night in a hotel in Tenerife which we were glad of because the new flights got us there too late to catch the ferry to La Gomera where we were staying. We ended up having a fantastic holiday which we feared wasn't going to happen!Christine Marlow gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot.
I have used DialAFlight five times now and every time they have given me a 5* service saving me time and money. Their back up support before, during and after the trip is excellent too and a great comfort to know that you can call on them if there is a problem.
I honestly cannot think why anyone wouldn't use them! It costs no more than booking the flights yourself and you can be sure you are getting the best deal without spending hours checking yourself...Jane Waring gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot.
I have used DialaFlight many times now. My main points of contact are Nathan and Malcolm who I have always found to be helpful and reliable. They keep an eye on every booking I have ever made with them. This year my wife took her first long haul holiday and she is quite a nervous traveller A few days before we were due to depart, Nathan took time to write a lovely email to her to reassure her that everything had been confirmed and if he could offer any advice.
My last business trip to the USA was booked in all of two minutes from a coffee shop in town. All I had to do was call, Malcolm answered, gave him the dates. He checked availability and confirmed flights and car hire whilst chatting to him on the phone. Soooo easy. The prices are also good and I have never been able to better their price without many many hours of surfing the net.
Added to that when I booked flight and car together I got the advantage of the atol insurance as it was classed as a package deal.
Really can't praise the guys highly enough and have no hesitation in recommending them.Steve Lipton gave DialAFlight 5 stars on Trust Pilot.