Going forward, holiday villa rental providers will present their prices including all mandatory additional costs
Eight major providers of holiday villa rentals now present their prices including all mandatory additional costs. Following an investigation of the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM), they have adjusted the way they present their prices. Mandatory costs (such as cleaning fees, bed linen fees, and tourism taxes) had not been included in all of their prices. Such costs were presented under the ‘i’-symbol, for example. This is not clear to consumers. ACM has confronted the providers with its findings. All of the eight providers now present their prices including any mandatory additional costs. ACM will continue to keep a close watch on the way prices are presented in the travel sector.
Edwin van Houten, Director of ACM’s Consumer Department, explains: “Consumers often base their purchase decisions on price. That is why it is unacceptable that consumers only get to see the total price at the very end of the booking process. In some cases, that can be twice as high as the original offer. That makes it more difficult for consumers to compare and choose. We welcome the adjustments that have been implemented. Having clear prices is good for consumers, and it helps create a level playing field for all providers.”
Investigation into clearer prices for consumers
It is important that consumers see clear prices when comparing or booking holiday villa rentals. That is why ACM in early 2022 launched an investigation into the way providers of holiday villa rentals present their prices. One part of that investigation was a real-world experiment that looked into the behavior of consumers that looked for and processed price information. In that experiment, ACM collaborated with the Dutch automobile association ANWB and two providers of holiday villa rentals, Belvilla and EuroParcs. These market participants then decided to present total prices when presenting prices to consumers for the first time.
ACM subsequently checked the websites of several larger and smaller providers of holiday villa rentals. Changes were necessary to the price presentation of all providers. ACM set a deadline before which they needed to change their websites. Subsequent checks revealed that now they do present prices including all mandatory additional costs. Besides EuroParcs and Belvilla, holiday villa rental providers Center Parcs, Landal, Slagharen and Anzelhoef now also present a single total price on the basis of the selected or maximum number of persons and nights. Roompot and Bungalowspecials also meet the statutory standard where all mandatory additional costs are presented in the price, but they go less far in the breakdown and presentation of prices.
What are consumers’ perceptions of prices?
ACM’s investigation reveals that consumers find it difficult to compare prices if these are presented without all mandatory additional costs. Most consumers do not see the information under the ‘i’-symbol (only 15 percent of consumers click on that symbol). As a result thereof, the additional costs only become clear to most website visitors much later in the booking process. The real-world experiment shows that consumers prefer to know at the start of the booking process what the total mandatory costs are. In addition, consumers find it annoying if prices in the shopping cart end up being higher than they were on previous pages.
The digital economy
The digital economy is one of the key priorities on ACM’s Agenda this year. The starting point is that consumers are fully able to reap the benefits of the digital society. With its oversight efforts, ACM helps realize that objective.