A website for the Kings Hotel in Brighton, www.thekingshotelbrighton.co.uk, seen on 25 August, stated on its home page "Welcome to The Kings Hotel Brighton!" and featured an image of the hotel. Small print at the bottom of the page stated the hotel's address and "Central Reservations © 2016". A "Contact Us" page featured an online enquiry form and text stating "Should you wish to contact The Kings Hotel Brighton, you can do so by completing the form below ... We look forward to hearing from you!". The website allowed consumers to book rooms online.
The complainant challenged whether the website misleadingly implied that it was the hotel's own website, rather than a third party's website.
Online Central Reservations Ltd did not respond to the ASA's enquiries.
The ASA was concerned by Online Central Reservations Ltd's lack of response and apparent disregard for the Code, which was a breach of CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 1.7 1.7 Any unreasonable delay in responding to the ASA's enquiries will normally be considered a breach of the Code. (Unreasonable delay). We reminded them of their responsibility to respond promptly to our enquiries and told them to do so in future.
We noted that the URL for the website included "thekingshotelbrighton", the headline on the home page stated "THE KINGS HOTEL, BRIGHTON" and a subheading stated "Welcome to The Kings Hotel Brighton!". Text at the bottom of the home page stated the hotel's address. On a page headed "Contact Us" text stated "Should you wish to contact The Kings Hotel Brighton, you can do so by completing the form below ... We look forward to hearing from you! ...". We considered those references gave the impression to consumers that the website was owned by the hotel itself, rather than a third party, and we considered that the reference to "Central Reservations © 2016" in text at the bottom of the home page was not sufficient to counter that impression. We therefore concluded that the website was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. 3.4.2 3.4.2 the identity (for example, a trading name) and geographical address of the marketer and any other trader on whose behalf the marketer is acting and 3.5 3.5 Marketing communications must not materially mislead by omitting the identity of the marketer.
Some marketing communications must include the marketer's identity and contact details. Marketing communications that fall under the Database Practice or Employment sections of the Code must comply with the more detailed rules in those sections.
Marketers should note the law requires marketers to identify themselves in some marketing communications. Marketers should take legal advice. (Misleading advertising), and 3.41 3.41 Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer about who manufactures the product. (Imitation and denigration).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Online Central Reservations Ltd not to misleadingly imply their website is The King's Hotel Brighton's own website. We referred the matter to the CAP Compliance team.