ASA Guidance on Travel Pricing
The Advertising Standards Authority has issued guidance on pricing for travel products.
“From” and “up to” claims
Unless they are a third party provider, travel marketers should be able to demonstrate that a significant proportion of seats or products are available at the stated “from” or promotional price. In addition, marketers should make clear the specific travel period to which an offer relates and the products available at the promotional price should be spread relatively evenly across this period.
Ensure prices appearing as the result of a product search are accurate
Price claims appearing after search criteria have been selected should usually relate specifically to the consumer’s needs, and be available. Unless the nature of a stated price is made explicitly clear and unlikely to mislead, marketers should ensure that only prices which are available for journeys meeting the search criteria are served to the consumer.
Take care when making destination specific claims
Make clear the destinations to which quoted prices relate and ensure small print doesn’t contradict the headline claim or impression given by the body of the ad. Similarly, claims such as “Just pay taxes and charges on return flights” are likely to be considered misleading, unless they apply to all seats on all return flights.
Ads offering “free flights” are likely to fall foul of the rules if there are any costs to the consumer. Marketers must not describe flights as “free” if this only applies to the ‘fare’ element of the price and the consumer must still pay the associated taxes or charges.
Third parties and dynamic pricing
Many travel marketers no longer have fixed arrangements with third parties. Elements of travel packages are often made available through shared systems, which can result in unpredictability around the prices available through shared online distribution systems, particularly in a fast moving sector.
Marketers are unlikely, therefore, to be able to monitor real time availability of flights or accommodation, meaning fares or rates may not be available at the stated price by the time consumers attempt to make a purchase. Nevertheless, marketers should ensure they take reasonable steps to reduce the likelihood of consumers being misled. Please see the guidance for information on the steps marketers are advised to take, in order to avoid making misleading claims about prices and availability.
For further guidance on issues around dynamic pricing and savings claims and to check your advertising complies, see the ASA’s AOL Travel Marketing: Pricing. The AOL Travel Marketing: Availability gives more guidance on the availability rules and how these relate to travel marketing, including guidance on pressure selling.
[Source: ASA, 10 January 2019]