Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
The hotel website www.langstonehotel.co.uk made the claim "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".
A promotional ad, seen on a third-party website for the same hotel offered rooms for £69.00 to £79.00 per night, reduced from £410.00.
A complainant challenged whether:
1. the claim "BEST RATES GUARANTEED" was misleading and could be substantiated 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
2. the original price of £410.00 stated on the third-party website exaggerated the cost of rooms at the hotel.
1. BDL Hotels said that the offer seen by the complainant included free breakfast if they stayed for a minimum of two nights. They said this was a special offer which meant it did not meet the terms of their Best Rate Guarantee policy.
2. BDL Hotels said that the original price of £410 was incorrect and had been amended.
The prices for a two-night stay at the Langstone Hotel, advertised on a third-party website did not state that free breakfast was included, or that it was a special offer. The ASA 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. We concluded that, because BDL Hotels had excluded the third-party price from their best price guarantee, the claim was misleading.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) 3.7 3.7 Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation. (Substantiation) and 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification).
We noted that the quoted price was incorrect. We therefore concluded that the ad was misleading.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 3.1 Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so. (Misleading advertising) and 3.17 3.17 Price statements must not mislead by omission, undue emphasis or distortion. They must relate to the product featured in the marketing communication. (Prices).
The ads must not appear in their current form. We told BDL Hotels to ensure their pricing was correct and that special offers or promotions were clearly stated as such.