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Court ruling in Australia: Trivago falsified hotel rankings

Quick, easy, Trivago? Not quite! As an Australian federal court has now found, the comparison and booking platform does not place the really cheapest hotel offers at the top of the competition. Instead, those who pay the website a cost-per-click fee are determined using their own algorithm.

Users are fooled by a tuned ranking

Users expect a price-performance comparison from Trivago and assume that the most relevant offers will be displayed at the top of the website or in the app. The better the deal, the more prominently visible - so the assumption. The Australian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (ACCC) questioned whether this is actually the case and whether fair competition takes place without consumer deception and has brought charges.

This has now been granted because Trivago, as a comparison portal, first displayed those hotels that had given the platform a commission. Users are thus deceived and fair competition is also undermined, according to the judgment of the highest court.

the Federal Court also found that Trivago's price comparisons, which highlighted crossed-out prices or text in different colors, gave consumers the wrong impression of savings, as they often compared an offer for a standard room with an offer for a luxury room in the same hotel has been.

Trivago compared apples with pears

"Trivago's hotel room rate ranking was primarily based on which online hotel booking portals were willing to pay Trivago the most," said ACCC Chairman Rod Sims. "We brought this case because we believe that Trivago's behavior was particularly outrageous. Many consumers may have been misled by these price displays to believe that they are getting huge discounts. In fact, Trivago was comparing apples to oranges."

The decision of the court is intended to generate a large signal effect in the industry, since ranking of comparison portals and search engines are repeatedly suspected of being commercially viable. Transparency is pushed into the background by advertising and commissions.

Trivago, headquartered in Düsseldorf, is also an important competitor in the tourism industry on the Australian market. Since the end of 2016, the placements have been manipulated for money, contrary to the company's own advertising for the best pricing for hotel guests.

The question of seriousness also with regard to other rankings and information, such as reviews, also arises at this point. A hearing of the defense will take place at a later point in time, followed by the pronouncement of the verdict, including the penalties.

66 percent of the offers were not a top offer!

"The Trivago website summarizes the offers from online hotel booking sites such as Expedia, Hotels.com and Booking.com as well as the available offers from hotel owners and highlights one offer from all online hotel booking sites - the so-called" top position offer ". Trivago's own However, data showed that in 66.8 percent of the cases, higher-priced room rates were selected as the top position offer compared to alternative, cheaper offers. "

The Federal Court of Australia