Hotel comparison site loses appeal over misleading ads

The Full Federal Court has dismissed an appeal by hotel comparison site Trivago against an earlier decision which found Trivago had breached the Australian Consumer Law by making misleading representations about hotel room rates on its website and television advertising.

In January 2020, the Federal Court had ruled that Trivago had misled consumers by representing its website would quickly and easily help users identify the cheapest rates available for a given hotel.

The judge at first instance had found that Trivago did not sufficiently disclose to users that its website used an algorithm that gave prominence to accommodation providers paying Trivago a higher payment fee (cost per click), meaning that the most prominent offers were often not the cheapest offers for consumers.

The primary judge also found that Trivago misled consumers through the use of strike through prices and text in different colours because Trivago often compared the rate for a standard room with the rate for a luxury room at the same hotel.

The decision by the Full Federal Court upholds the primary judge’s decision that Trivago’s website representations misled consumers.

“This is a win for consumers and is an important warning to comparison sites that they must not mislead consumers about the results they recommend,” Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chair Rod Sims said.

“We brought this case because we were concerned that consumers were being misled by Trivago’s claims that their site was getting the best deal for consumers, when in fact they were shown the deals that benefited Trivago.

“Trivago’s conduct meant that consumers may have paid more for a room at a hotel than they should have, and hotels lost business from direct bookings despite offering cheaper prices,” Mr Sims said.

Do you use hotel comparison sites when booking your holidays? Are you less likely to use them given the ruling in this case?


There is nothing new about this type of behaviour, been going on for decades. Online shopping, tv shopping, all offering you a 'block of flats' to buy whatever and suggesting ludicrous 'regular' price.

Don't just single out Trivargo, go after all of them.

I usually book directly through the accommodation whenever I can.  I don't trust any accommodation website that has comparison prices.

You can always go to the hotels individual websites and check the price directly. I have been with for a while now and so I get offered Genius deals but I still double check other ways of booking a particular hotel/motel. Also prices are better on some days than others. I have found it is definitely cheaper to book a particular hotel myself if I need to come in a day earlier for a tour. I think the tour companies sign contracts way in advance with certain hotels and it costs money to hang onto those rooms until numbers for a particular tour are decided on. If I do it myself well in advance I can also choose not to pay in advance and get cancellation right up until the day before arrival. It is possible to investigate all this online but of course you need to devote a lot of time to understand it, to build your confidence and get it right.

I do exactly the same Hardworker. I use the comparison site to get an idea of whats available in the area then check with the accommodation directly. And I also check more than one comoarison site too!

Frankly I am surprised more people dont. 

I tend to do the same thing. I use the sites to check what is available and then check the accommodation separately to see what is on offer. I look up a lot of different types of accommodation.

I wrote to the NRMA when they advised they were using Expedia which owns Trivago to book accommodation and pointed out the pitfalls as well as the percentage taken from proprietors which went straight offshore. Their response was not encouraging. These people are very clever as they have all of the first responses to any Google enquiries when seeking accommodation and it's almost impossible to access the websites of the providers. I have found that a separate search for a chosen provider to access their website will produce an identical rate but all of the funds stay with the provider. As a matter of interest, Expedia Inc owns Expedia, Expedia Corporate Travel (now Egencia), Trip Advisor, Classic Vacations, eLong,, and, Trivago, Via Travel, Travel Dream Vacation,, Travelocity, Orbitz, Wingz and HomeAway.

Thanks Horace ... a very encompassing portfolio, to say the least.

Didn't realise Expedia was founded as a division of Microsoft in October 1996. Expedia was spun off into a public company in 1999.

According to Rich Barton, the company's first CEO, the word "Expedia" is derived from a combination of "exploration" and "speed".

After catching one of these booking crowds out with an overseas booking several years ago. purely by accident, we now check several places on prices and go direct to the hotel and see what they will do. Always comes up as matching or even better than these outsiders offer. Several instances where they {possibly) doubted my story I copied the page and forwarded to the hotel to confirm, no worries and an explanation of why the difference. Just takes a little time to follow up.


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