A website, http://booking.village-hotels.co.uk, for De Vere Village Urban Resorts, featured a price grid on the "LATEST OFFERS" page. The price grid featured text in the "Offer" column, which stated "Getaway Break - 1 night Dinner B&B". Text under the corresponding "Price From" column stated "£94.00 per room" and text under the "Date" column stated "22/02/13 - 31/12/13". A link, labelled "VIEW" was shown beside the offer. Upon clicking that link further text appeared which stated "Getaway Break - 1 night Dinner B&B London Elstree Enjoy a 1 night dinner, bed and breakfast getaway break at Village from just £69.00 per night". The ad included a link labelled "Terms and conditions". Upon clicking that link further text stated " ... Subject to promotional availability ... We reserve the right to amend this offer without prior notification ... ".
The complainant challenged the availability of rooms at the advertised 'from' price.
Village Hotels & Leisure Ltd (Village Hotels) said a number of rooms were available at the advertised 'from' price throughout the advertised period. They provided a spreadsheet detailing purchases at the advertised price and a sample of invoices to support that. They also provided evidence which showed the total number of rooms sold at the London Elstree at the advertised price as a percentage of the total rooms sold under the one-night Dinner and B&B offer for a four-month period. They said they could not determine the number of rooms available at the London Elstree at the advertised rate, because they used a revenue management system, which based availability on demand and uptake, rather than a predetermined target.
The ASA noted the ad stated a date range beside the advertised 'from' price. In that context, we considered consumers would understand the ad meant that a reasonable number of rooms would be available at £94 throughout the stated date range.
We noted Village Hotels provided sales data, which showed that a number of consumers had booked rooms at the advertised price of £94. They also provided evidence of the number of rooms sold at the advertised price as a percentage of the total rooms sold under the one-night Dinner and B&B offer. However, we were concerned that we had not seen evidence to demonstrate the number of rooms available at the advertised price as a percentage of the total rooms available. We were also concerned that Village Hotels were not able to determine the number of rooms available at the London Elstree at the advertised rate. Rather, availability of the advertised fare was based on demand and uptake. We therefore considered we had not seen sufficient evidence to demonstrate that a reasonable number of rooms were available to book for £94 in a relatively even spread across the travel period.
On that basis, we concluded that the ad breached the Code.
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 3.22 3.22 Price claims such as "up to" and "from" must not exaggerate the availability or amount of benefits likely to be obtained by the consumer. (Prices).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Village Hotels to ensure they held adequate evidence to demonstrate the availability of rooms at advertised prices in future.