CORRECTION: This article originally reported an inaccurate currency conversion of $1.75 million per fine.
The Korea Fair Trade Commission said the online travel booking brands had “deceived” customers by not clearly saying that they had listed certain businesses, such as hotels, at the top of their search results partly because those companies had paid fees for the privilege.
The regulator said the practice might lead some customers to think certain businesses were at the top of search restuls solely because of their services and facilities, Yonhap reported.
Booking.com placed a “thumbs-up” logo next to hotels that paid fees, but the regulator said that was inadequate. Agoda used phrases, such as “Agoda Growth Program,” next to listings for hotels that had paid for premium placement, but the regulator faulted that practice as being insufficiently clear.
Booking Holdings has denied misleading customers.
Over the last several years, many online travel companies have become the subject of investigations by various national competition authorities for advertising, contractural, and selling practices.
Sean O'Neill, Skift