InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has been rapped over the knuckles by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for offering an unclear and misleading best price guarantee.
A listing on www.ihg.com for the Holiday Inn Express in London's Nine Elms (pictured) advertised a "Best Price Guarantee when you book with us" and "We promise you the lowest available price online, or we'll match it and give you five times the IHG Rewards Club points, up to a 40,000-point maximum".
However, to qualify, customers would first have to book a hotel room directly with IHG and then submit a claim within 24 hours, which would be verified by IHG.
The ASA said these terms were not clear from the ad and raised concerns over dynamic pricing, where prices for rooms can change quickly. It said the very act of buying a room would reduce availability, possibly even taking the last available room at that price.
The ASA said consumers would understand the claim to mean that they were guaranteed not to pay more by booking the same hotel room on IHG's website than if they booked it elsewhere, which was not the case, and the ad was therefore misleading.
The news follows a crackdown on price transparency on online travel agents and major hotel group websites by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) last year. IHG was one of more than 25 sites which committed to a new voluntary code of behaviour.