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Business briefing: Hotels that pay get boost in ranking on 8 travel sites

HALF of major travel websites rank hotels higher if they are paid commission for reservations, a study found.

Of 14 major booking sites, eight admitted that payment boosted hotels in their default search results, consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com revealed.

Search results show a ‘recommended’ or ‘top pick’ hotel when people book via a hotel broker or comparison site. These are chosen according to algorithms based on factors such as price, location and reviews.

But many sites confirmed hotels would be ranked higher than similar alternatives if a booking site is paid, or paid more, when a reservation is made.

This was the case for Agoda, Booking.com, Ebookers, Expedia, Kayak, Hotels.com, Trivago and Trip.com, the study found. By contrast, Lastminute.com, Skyscanner, TravelSupermarket, ZenHotels, Getaroom and Netflights said payment deals did not affect rankings.

The issue was flagged up recently by the Competition and Markets Authority, which cited ‘failure to disclose the effect of payments on search results’ as a concern.

Guy Anker, deputy editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said at least sites were transparent. He added: ‘Don’t see the fact that a hotel booking site could skew its rankings as a reason not to use one. They may still offer the best price.’

The named websites said they comply with rules by telling customers that commission may affect ranking.

Nike boss’s exit ‘not linked to Salazar row’

NIKE’S chief executive is to step down in January after more than 13 years in the job.

Mike Parker will be replaced by board member John Donahoe, ex-boss of eBay. The departing CEO, who will become executive chairman, said the succession plan was months in the making and had ‘absolutely nothing’ to do with the scandal over Nike’s Oregon Project.

The training programme for elite athletes is to be shut down after Sir Mo Farah’s former coach Alberto Salazar, who ran it, was this month banned for four years by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

BUSINESS BITES

■ SNAPCHAT has added 7million daily active users in the past quarter. The photo-sharing app reported 210million users in the past three months and losses of £176.5million — down from £198.1million.

■ PUB group Fuller’s has added ‘201 stylish bedrooms’ to its portfolio by buying Cotswold Inns & Hotels for £40million. The Broadway Hotel, Worcestershire, is not included and is retained by the current owners.

■ LOCKSMITHS charge more than any other tradesman, a study shows. They cost an average of £43 an hour, compared with £41 for heating engineers and £40 for plumbers, says comparison website HaMuch.com.

■ STARLING Bank is set to reach a million customers in ‘weeks’ after it raised £30million from investors. The challenger bank aims to use the money to expand in Europe and is in talks for an Irish banking licence.

■ A RUSSIAN family in London want to hire a butler who acts like Jeeves, Bertie Wooster’s fictional valet. Their post on Jobs in Childcare offers up to £60,000 a year for running their four homes and helping to look after their youngsters.