A complaint about misleading and exaggerated advertised rates for the four-star, 148-bedroom Langstone hotel in Portsmouth has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
BDL Hotels, the management company which operates the privately owned hotel, has subsequently been told to remove all advertisements in their current form and ensure that all special offers, promotions and pricing are clear and correct.
The ruling was made in relation to a claim on the hotel's website of "Best Rates Guaranteed… Best Rate Guaranteed when you book direct!… If you find a lower publicly available rate on another website, we'll match the lower rate and also give you and sic] additional 10% discount… Best Rate Guaranteed is not available with any Packages or Special Offers".
The ASA was contacted after a promotional advert, seen on a third-party website for the same hotel, offered rooms for £69 to £79 per night, reduced from £410. A complainant challenged whether the claim "Best Rate Guaranteed" was misleading because a cheaper room price, on a third-party website, was described as a special offer by the Langstone hotel and therefore not subject to the guarantee and that the original price of £410 stated on the same website exaggerated the cost of rooms at the hotel.
In response, BDL Hotels said that the offer seen by the complainant included free breakfast if they stayed for a minimum of two nights. They stated that this was a special offer, which meant it did not meet the terms of the Best Rate Guarantee policy.
The ASA upheld the complaint on the basis that the prices for a two-night stay at the Langstone hotel, advertised in a third-party website, did not state that free breakfast was included, or that it was a special offer. It considered that consumers would expect advertisers to make discounted prices available in order to secure bookings and a discounted price would not necessarily be seen as a special offer or package deal.
As a result, the ASA concluded that the Langstone hotel advert was misleading because BDL Hotels has excluded the third-party price from their best price guarantee and the quoted price was incorrect.
Following the ruling, Yvonne Seator, group marketing manager of BDL Hotels said: "We work closely with the ASA and take on board their recommendations."
By Janet Harmer
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