A warning if you are looking to book a hotel room through a third party app called Snaptravel – don’t do it, particularly if your travel plans may change. Kayak and the hotel share some of the blame as well.
Snaptravel Scam: Bait-And-Switch Hotel Booking
An Award Expert client wanted to spend a night at the Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt, a hotel that I love. We booked his flight and he did not even mention he needed a hotel…until after he got shafted.
I realize we live in a world transformed by the pandemic, but hotels and third-party booking platforms must do a better job of clearly outlining the amenities actually available at hotels and resorts. Just like disclosing all fees upfront, this transparency is vital in helping consumers make informed choices when reserving overnight accommodations.
My client began on Kayak and searched for the Rocco Forte Villa Kennedy. A list of rates appeared, with the standard rate being $331, but a cheaper $281 rate appearing from Snaptravel. Snaptravel is a messaging-based travel app that partners with Kayak.
On Kayak, there was no indication any of the amenities would not be available due to COVID-19:
Same story on the Villa Kennedy website – a big section on COVID-19 with nothing about closures:
So he booked it. Instead of receiving a confirmation from Snaptravel, he received one from DOTW (Destinations of the World), which appears to be a booking network with access to wholesale rates.
But when he showed up at the Villa Kennedy, he found a number of problems:
- Restaurant was closed
- Breakfast was not available
- Gym was closed
- Spa was closed
- On-site COVID-19 testing not available
That’s huge…you really don’t go the Villa Kennedy to sit in your room. Speaking of the room, this was the absolutely depressing room he was assigned:
With a drab room and no amenities, he asked to check out less than a half hour after arriving. The hotel agreed, noting that it had “released” the booking and it was eligible for a refund.
But when my client reached out to Snaptravel he was immediately denied a refund. He escalated to a supervisor and was again denied. They did not care. The rule, he was told, are that all sales are final.
I advised him to dispute the charge. Snaptravel could have refunded the stay and did not. It’s a shady way to act and a despicable example of customer service.
Kayak is also to blame, as is the hotel for not clearly disclosing what amenities were actually available. This, it seems to me, is exactly when a credit card company should step into protect their cardholders.
But there is no longer a reasonable expectation that amenities like restaurants and spas will not be open. Indeed, in Frankfurt most hotels have returned to full service.
Be very wary of doing business with Snaptravel. It appears their advantage is they take a much lower “cut” of hotel commissions in order to offer a more attractive rate. But when you book with Snaptravel, you’re locked in – even in bait-and-switch situations like what occurred to my client. Kayak and the Villa Kennedy must also do a better job of actually making clear which amenities are available and which are not, because that is a fundamental selling point of this hotel.