The truth about third-party booking “scams”? Maybe hotels can’t handle the truth

I don’t know anyone who’s been scammed by a third-party hotel site. But I should have known better than to admit it — and in the Washington Post, no less.

No surprise, then, that I heard from Howard Schulman. His story, which I’ll get to in just a second, says a lot more than anyone realizes about the problems facing hotel guests. And in this case, the context is even more significant.

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First, though, a few details: In my story, I reported that the hotel industry is pushing a bill that would mandate more disclosure when you book through a third-party site. Disclosure is good, but as I noted, hotel guests have more pressing issues, such as price transparency and mandatory resort fees.

OK, and let’s just get this out of the way. Because I know you’re waiting for it.

Pshaw, say hotels. While the industry doesn’t deny that guests are concerned about other things, they claim many guests have been suckered by these shady companies, which mimic brand-name travel sites. Although they have research that supposedly proves it, I mentioned that neither I nor any of the consumer advocates I know had ever heard from anyone who’d been scammed by one of these questionable sites.

And that’s where Schulman comes in.