On the Beach using ‘shady tactics’ Ben Ireland

On the Beach has been lambasted for “shady” and “provocative” marketing tactics that name and undermine its competitors to boost its ranking in search results. Te OTA has created pages on its

website directly comparing itself to brands including Olympic Holidays, Tui and First Choice. It says “when you compare On the

Beach to Olympic Holidays, there’s really no competition”, going on to add “and here’s the important bit – On the Beach is oſten cheaper”. Olympic Holidays said some

content posted by On the Beach was incorrect, such as listing Madeira as part of the Azores. Head of marketing

“unwriten rule” that fellow operators don’t criticise each other. He added: “All this does is create a price war, which is the last thing we want at the moment.” Gemma Antrobus,

chairman of Aito Specialist Travel Agents, said the tactics were “shady” but

Carl Caterall said: “We work hard, play fair and would expect the same of our competitors.” On its Tui page, On the Beach

says “just like Tui, everything we do is centred on you”, adding “you’ll find these holidays at cheaper prices”. Aito director Noel Josephides said On the Beach’s tactic breaches an

it was “understandable” that On the Beach would employ them to differentiate. “Naming competitors is not how it’s normally done, but someone was going to do it in this price-driven market,” she said. Charlote Lamp Davies, of travel

marketing consultancy A Bright Approach, said the “provocative” tactic was being used to improve On

the Beach’s web traffic from searches of its competitors’ names. She said: “It’s not what you’d expect the big boys to do, but within their rights.” Te Advertising Standards

Authority’s code permits comparative advertising but it “must not discredit or denigrate another product”. It says comparisons must objectively compare one or more features, which may include price. On the Beach said it regularly

checks the pages, uploaded in March, “to ensure they provide like-for-like or beter value than competitors”. A spokesman added: “Tese pages are designed to showcase some of the great hotels on offer that are oſten available at a lower price than through some other holiday retailers.”

Courts’ verdicts on illness claims ‘swinging back’

Ian Taylor

Te industry fight against fake holiday-sickness claims and high-profile cases of fraud had a “chilling effect” on false claims, but the view of courts could be “swinging back the other way”, according to an industry barrister. Sarah Prager of 1 Chancery Lane

said: “Early last year, the industry was winning all of the claims. Judges switched on to the fact that

4 6 JUNE 2019

the claims were all the same. Te claimants go to an all-inclusive. Tey don’t eat outside. Tey fall ill within three to four days. All suffer the same symptoms. “Ten there was a stream of cases

where it was established claimants were commiting fraud. Tat had a chilling effect. “Now I detect it swinging back

the other way. We are winning fewer gastric-illness claims than we were. “I’m not sure whether claims are being screened beter or judges are

looking at them case by case.” Speaking at last month’s Abta

Travel Law Seminar, Prager said the “tsunami” of holiday-sickness claims was creating a backlog at some courts. She said: “Tere are still thousands of gastric-illness claims. Te courts are not coping. Courts in Birmingham and Manchester are only dealing with gastric claims.” She forecast: “Tere will be a lot

more gastric-illness [court] cases this year and then that will be it.” Claire Mulligan, partner at law

Sarah Prager: ‘We’re winning fewer gastric- illness cases than we were’

firm Kennedys, told the seminar that despite progress against fake sickness, claims firms were still targeting travel. She predicted claims that sought

to exploit loopholes in the new Package Travel Regulations would start to come through soon and warned: “Te usual firms in this area are very aware of the new regulations.” Mulligan added: “A lot of

operators have not updated their booking terms and conditions since

the new regulations came in.” › Business News, back page


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