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Consumer Reports Webwatch Guidelines For Hotel-Booking Sites

We believe Web sites that provide hotel room-booking services, and that are not operated by specific hotel companies or chains, will promote Web credibility, improve trust among users and increase usability if they adopt Consumer Reports WebWatch’s guidelines for all Web sites and the following industry-specific guidelines:

  1. Hotel room-booking sites should provide consumers with a comprehensive list of lodging companies with which they do business. This list should be prominently displayed and easy to find, with a current date of last update.
  2. Sites should provide consumers with basic explanations of how their Web booking technologies work, for instance, how they receive rate data./li>
  3. Sites should tell consumers if a given rate is exclusive to that site or exclusive to the Internet. All quoted rates should, where applicable, include all taxes and fees, or clearly disclose that additional taxes may be payable at time of checkout./li>
  4. Sites should provide basic definitions of frequently used marketing terms such as “rack rate,” “special rate,” “weekend rate” and the like./li>
  5. The better sites will provide a 24-hour-a-day toll-free help desk to assist consumers with changes, cancellations and refunds. At a minimum, sites should in writing provide all relevant information and instructions for dealing with changes, cancellations and refunds./li>
  6. The better sites will provide clear options for search customization at the earliest possible step of the search. Site search architecture should focus on consumer requirements, as opposed to focusing on business agreements./li>