Go look at a hotel in the middle of nothing in the most off-peak season, and it will still tell you that several rooms have been booked in the last few days and there are like 4 people looking at that hotel right now so you should book NOW! And of course everything is a one-time bargain. It's so blatant I don't even know how anyone can believe all that.
What annoys me is that as I mentioned, when it comes to the actual product (hotel bookings, their management, and customer service), it works great (at least in my experience). It's far from being a scam. So why they have to resort to that cheap, misleading sales tactics, probably hindering their image, is beyond me.
It's at the same time great and sad that no single sale genius is behind those teasers, though, as virtually anything can be tested online by anyone and only actual bookings will decide what sticks.
It used to work the other way too: once a particular phrasing have been approved by the A/B experiment engine, it's very hard to get rid of it. Unless there is a new regulation of course. Regulations were also taken very seriously, but to the letter. Meaning those dark patterns will likely stay online whenever they are not regulated against.
One thing I can tell you is that the “x guests booked” absolutely isn’t true, as it would frequently say so about my apartment when I hadn’t had a booking in months.
Maybe it’s true in some cases, but there’s definitely some fudging going on.
Did it specifically say "X guests booked at this specific apartment/hotel"?
Not explicitly specifying the place would seem like an easy way to have a technically correct statement, while being extremely misleading. E.g. maybe it just meant bookings in the same city, despite showing that text beside your apartment.
Boils down to risk mgmt vs revenue - and all but the most conservative businesses will choose revenue.
In my case, I absolutely starved booking in favour of Airbnb, as Airbnb was much faster out of the gate. So, I have platform risk, but revenue is good.
My point is that in this market it's really hard to attain channel balance.
It seems the OTAs alghoritms absolutely favour cannibalization.
Issues like this happen all the time, and the debate always centered around messaging. We would love to tell users why something is unbookable, but trying to figure out the details with suppliers ended up being near impossible.
That being said, OTAs do have their own set of issues to answer for, including misleading messaging, scummy sales tactics, etc.
For those unfamiliar, think of a Hotel’s PMS system like an ERP platform but for hotel operations and associating guest services with guest billing info. Buy the high-speed WiFi instead of using the slow free WiFi? That goes to the PMS and tells the hotel to bill you for it (if they don’t farm that out to a third-party who bills and remits on their behalf).
I’ve come to learn, without naming any of my clients publicly that technology integration in hospitality (I specifically refer to household name hotel brands, not necessarily brands associated with ordering reservations like Expedia and Booking.com) ranges from exceptional but difficult to horrifying but trivial, and a common source of my personal frustrations as a product manager for our specific services (which require integration to these PMS platforms) is incomplete or inaccurate data produced by the property or hotel brand THEMSELVES
I feel your frustration.
In addition, I've noticed that their hardware and software is often terrible, non-performant or buggy. So when we try to interface with them, we need to do hacks like severe rate limiting and long term caching of inventory (sometimes 24+ hours), simply because if we wanted to run at the TPS we run at, they would tip over. This leads to stale inventory on our end, and customer anger. We would love to do everything live (with short term caching), but the suppliers just can't take the load. Just about the only direct call made is the booking one, everything else is stale by some amount.
Monitoring/logging is often non-existent, so when you say "hey we're seeing latency" they have no idea how to diagnose or fix. Often, they don't have metrics in place and are unaware that there is latency to begin with.
> incomplete or inaccurate data produced by the property or hotel brand THEMSELVES
I believe it's largely because the RPC soap calls that many of these integrations use are stateful, so making the same call over and over again can lead to different results. Much of their tech stack is stuck in the 90s/early 2000s, and it shows.
ps. What I usually do, is look at booking.com for hotels at cheaper prices and then head to the hotel's website. They usually have more categories of available rooms and at a cheaper price.
The reason we spent all that time+money? It affected the metrics on which we were paid, AND consumed a huge amount of compute resources of ourselves and partners.
It's also (at least in part) why places are doing the "Sign up to see special offers" thing - because the offer isn't for display on the open site, and they don't want that value to appear on scrapers. So... logged in users only, and validate that user isn't doing scraping.
Wow, I'm interested to know more here! How much bot/scraper traffic was there that it cost you big on compute?
However, lets just say that if normal peak traffic is 1X, then bot traffic can come in at 100-10000X. And in most cases it's not a smooth rise, it'll be a case of suddenly all this new traffic came in, no warning, no rise.
How many non-trivially complex sites do you know that can suddenly take 100-10000X their normal peak in under a minute? Those that do - are their managers happy about spending on idle infrastructure?
How fast do you think even services like AWS can scale? (hint: it's not fast enough).
Normal traffic is, in aggregate, quite predictable in load. Outside of very unusual situations, you don't get hundreds of thousands of people suddenly hitting your site.
Plus, because that traffic is nice and predictable, you can have decent caching rules, reducing the cost of the traffic again.
Along comes Mr Botnet and they want to scrape everything: every hotel in every city, every checkin/out tuple for stays of 1-7 days for the next 12 months, and a bunch of room configurations.
Kiss your caching goodbye, because now not only is your cache hit ratio for their searches going to be effectively zero, but now it's being filled with other shit that nobody else wants.
And this is just our infrastructure. There's the third party OTAs that we hit, and they have the same issue, often with smaller and less experienced teams running on crappier infrastructure.
So, you get angry calls from them that their shared hosting provider is cutting them off and you're ruining their business. Because of course, this shared hosting is not only hosting their room availability search API, but their hotel check-in and sales applications - so nobody in 30 hotels can check-in/out.
FWIW, I’ve been on the other side of this (not in the travel industry), and written scrapers. I never scraped the HTML, though. My strategy was to MITM the mobile app and use the same API. I also made sure to throttle the traffic, if not to be respectful, at least to blend in without setting off alarms...
Sorry, but you're talking about something you have no idea of.
The impact on that platform of someone using the API vs crawling the site is approximately the same.
Whether someone scraped us via the API or via the HTML made no difference in terms of impact on the platform.
This kind of personal attack seems unnecessary, and by the way, I probably know a lot more than you assume about this particular topic.
Regardless, if you had an API, you could charge for it. It wouldn't cover 100% of the scrapers, but it would cover some.
There were APIs. I won't go into the business relationships that existed over their use.
There were still scrapers, regardless.
You might be interested in the case of LinkedIn vs HiQ , which is setting precedent for protecting scraping of public data.
Based on the fact that you “inserted special messages,” it sounds like the people scraping your site may have been republishing the data. That is a separate issue that in some cases can violate copyright. But in that case, it’s not the scraping of the data that is the problem, so much as it is republishing the data outside the bounds of fair use.
I am of the strong belief that if you make your data publicly available to users, you should expect bots to scrape it too. If your infrastructure is setup in a way that makes traffic from those bots expensive, that’s your problem. The solution is not to sue people or send them letters. You can mitigate it with infrastructure changes like aggressive caching, or you can charge for access for everyone, not just bots. IMO, it’s especially wrong if you allow google to scrape your data, but try to stop every other bot from doing the same.
Rate data has a very limited validity period. Customers get super super pissed (and assume you're scamming them) if when they click through they find out that the hotel/flight/whatever that on the previous page you had said was $200, is now either $250 or sold out. Customers, and the local authorities also tend to get lawyers involved if it happens (in their eyes) too frequently without a good explanation.
It's expensive to get that rate data, because unless you have your own inventory, you have to go out to third party APIs to request that rate for the search parameter tuple which has a specific checkin/checkout dates. When you're searching larger cities - where you might have thousands of hotels - that can be an insanely large number of API calls to return rates.
Most places (including my former employer) don't have a problem issue with scrapers, so long as they didn't abuse the platform to the point that it was causing a ton of extra load. When you have someone who spins up huge numbers of connections at once, that's when we have to do something about it.
> you can charge for access for everyone
That's implicit in the purchase process.
It's like if there's a little cafe that provides free water and tables to sit at on their balcony. That works out for them because it attracts customers. Not everyone might buy something, but most do.
Then someone who runs a dog walking business decides to make that a stop on their walk with 20 dogs. Their dogs eat all the treats, run around the balcony, while the walker sits at the table and drinks the water. Meanwhile, customers are annoyed that there's now 20 barking dogs running around and so they leave.
The business is well within their rights to tell the dog walker to leave and not return without also blocking others who aren't abusing the system.
Did the app use cert pinning
What percentage of apps actually use cert pinning
If nothing else, it seems incredible that bot authors would be so willfully harmful - they must know that kind of behaviour is going to prompt a reaction
Another reason why they do that is because their partners require they don't advertise special pricing to the world at large, they're contractually forbidden from doing so.
Logging in - requiring an email validation loop - would be simple for bots, but again, anti-bot tech stops them from doing it en-masse.
I've interviewed for Booking.com and even the girl on the phone couldn't make their process appealing (tons of Perl; no plans to migrate to anything not perl, very few tests, very little code review, developers can push straight to production .. seems like a hell shop).
Most of your code will be deployed as an experiment, so you are more likely to throw away that code instead of refactoring it.
Developers can push to production, and are expected to be responsible for the results of that push. It works quite well.
(I used to work in the travel space, at TripAdvisor, but that was about eight years ago; no other affiliations.)
One of their mantra was indeed "we are not an IT company", which I came to understand as "we don't want to hear about how things ought to be done. We do not bow to best practices. We rely on measurements not culture".
After a few years in a big corporation where you couldn't change more than 3 lines of code without 2 code reviews and approval from 2 managers, without ever considering the customers or the final product, moving there was such a relief!
Usage of a runtime typed, interpreted language for so many loc in production was of course concerning (esp. Perl which syntax and semantic are sometime surprising), but the attitude considering of caring more about measuring and controlling every possible effect than following the best practices of the day is invaluable.
This is definitively a place I would recommend to any engineer willing to learn.
Edit: it's quite possible that I'm mixing up memories of a company other than booking.com
I live in the middle of nowhere where all mostly empty hotels are listed as at least 50% booked because hotel owners mark rooms as booked themselves to not look empty.. it's not all booking.com's fault.
I'd make that play in a heartbeat.
Edit: in the spirit of Hacker News, what I always think about is how financially successful booking.com is, given what I think is the worst experience in the world for reserving a hotel room. I use it to remind myself that very few people think like me, and making things to my liking (straight and to the point) will get me nowhere.
Still boggles my mind that people prefer to patronize businesses that show a high price with a nebulous x% off, rather than just a simple price.
Usually I’ll search booking.com to find a hotel to stay and if the hotel belongs to a brand let’s say Hilton or Marriott I’ll email them directly to get a better price.
For smaller hotels or apartments I use booking.com for the security it provides me with. By security I mean that in the unfortunate case that the hotel of apartment I booked is overbooked or something similar, I trust booking.com and on its ability to force the hotelier to reaccomodate me somewhere else. I’ve had this happened to me previously as a client and booking.com managed to straight it out.
Now if you book directly through a small hotel or apartment or even use the likes of Airbnb or something at points you risk being out of accommodation and just getting your money back which in a busy season that there is no availability left in the area and the closest room is 2 times more expensive than you booked.
I know that people think that’s an extreme scenario but let me tell you that I run my hotel like airlines do. It’s cheaper to overbook and relocate someone to a near hotel having 105% capacity than having running lower than 100% on high season. And of course I had that happen to me as a client previously and just getting money back wasn’t nice at all.
But overall look at hotels and email them, most hotels will knock off the 15-20% commission booking.com is charging.
And your relocated customers are surely happy about that.
I (used to) travel a lot for work and the one thing I am pretty sure is that I never returned to a hotel that overbooked and had me relocate, additionally I told everyone I knew about the shitty behaviour and made sure that noone in the company I worked for ever booked there again.
Now, I make some consulting work for a small, independent, hotel, and - luckily enough - even if it is "cheaper" to overbook, the management holds the care and respect for the customer well above that.
Dirty rooms can be cleaned, cockroaches can be eradicated, but intentional overselling indicates an incurable dishonesty at the heart of management.
All the airlines do it to, too. Also, if a VIP comes in wanting to spend a month at the hotel and the hotel has to overbook a couple nights, they’re not going to turn away thousands in revenue. Even the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan cancels reservations when the Saudi royal family is in town.
I would sometimes need to arrive to check-in really late, like 3 a.m. If the hotel was nearly full I'd actually get a call on my mobile phone from the desk manager around 10p or 11p asking if I was still going to be checking in. I'm sure it was only because the hotel would get dinged by corporate for having to pay me out if they gave away my room. Too bad they don't care enough to do that for everyone before selling out their room from under them.
An alternate strategy I use with other chains when I'm concerned there might be an oversold situation is to call the hotel around the normal check-in time (~3p) and get the front desk to check-in my room while I'm on the phone and insist on getting the actual room number. That way, it'll be some other poor schmuck who trying to check in at midnight that will get shafted.
Here (Italy) you make a reservation, and if you do that through one of the portals such as booking.com you surely already provide your credit card number and the authorization to either bill the room price or bill the "no-show", which usually is one night unless you cancel 24 or 48 hours prior your reservation.
For the hotel it is a win situation, as the room you reserved will have no costs attached (laundry, maid, cleaning as it will be not used) and no costs for (the actual ingredients of) your breakfast, while the hotel will cash the same money.
Not only, a few (again according to my personal standards dishonest) hotels will bill you the "no show" and sell anyway "your" room to someone arriving late, thus doubling the income.
Overbooking and caring about the customer is a completely different thing.
Overbooking is about running a business. We are almost on 2020 and currently its a stats game for any business out there. In order to min/max my own business I have to overbook, that's how i'll turn profit.
Caring and respecting the customer - anyone that is not doing that shouldn't be running a hotel imho. (Ryanair as an example should never ever run a hotel)
Also on hotels you do have ratings nowadays, service is not something you can compromise on. If you are having unhappy customers then that will show on your tripadvisor, booking.com, hotels.com and whatever have you. Then you'll have to drop your prices, meaning making less and devaluing your product.
Customer service/happiness should be the number one priority for any hotel out there.
My kind of hotel allows me to make a profit by capitalizing on overbookings. I've kept the hotel on 4 stars whilst is an actual 5 star hotel with all the amenities a 5 stars hotel has. I kept it that way because the expectations of the customer are lower when they visit a 4 star hotel vs a 5 star hotel.
The pricing nowadays doesn't go by stars anyways it goes by rating. The higher your ratings and publicity the higher your price. There is less than a handful of 5 stars around me that can be more expensive than I am. The rest of them are cheaper due to their ratings/size etc.
When a customer arrives and learns that his room has been overbooked, he also learns that he'll be staying at a close-by hotel that usually is of 5 stars. The quality of the hotel that I'll put my customer because he remains my customer is either similar or higher than my hotel.
If the customer check the prices also for that hotel, he'll find that they are the same as the room he booked. (I get them cheaper through the hotels I do business with and that's where profit comes from).
But I'll never have the customer feel that he is getting less than he paid for, or have his holidays ruined or altered.
8/10 times he'll stay at a slightly cheaper hotel than mine but of similar or higher quality/star rating.
2/10 i'll go in the bank and i'll be putting the customer on a more expensive hotel than mine.
Again its a stats game but I won't compromise on customer service and that's running a hotel.
Also personally let me tell you that I am not very keen towards returning customers in my area. My experience has shown me that returning customers expect the hotel prices and offers to remain the same and the hotel is currently on a developing area which has its prices going up yearly.
I had returning customers asking why I was X more expensive this year than their last visit in 2016. For me its straight forward: inflation and the market prices around me will set the prices to where they need to be. For the customer is a bit more complicated and the customer will usually believe that my hotel is just becoming more expensive without a reason.
Again this thing on the returning customer is totally personal and it affects my area as its highly touristic and not a business area and my hotel being of a certain boutique size. I am aware that most hotels out there have loyalty programs and they do make their money of returning customers.
Again as a hotelier I'll never ever compromise on quality and try to capitalize on someones holidays by ruining them or making them feel awful. If there is no room available at my price point around the area, the customer is going to stay at a more expensive room than mine and me going out of pocket on that.
If you are having tourists as customers, they may be not much inconvenienced by having to move to a nearby (really near) other hotel, if you are working with business customers they won't likely ever return.
In both cases, by my personal standards (not necessarily valid universally) when someone books a room in a hotel he/she is entering in a contract where one side guarantees the availability of the (specific, meaning in the specific hotel/building) room and the other promises to pay for that room (or the cancellation rate) and overbooking and moving the customer to another hotel, no matter whether it is 4, 5 ot 6 stars is:
1) a breach of that unwritten contract
2) a lack of respect towards the customer
And the "stats game" is the usual (poor) excuse to justify a less than correct behaviour, worse - if you are doing that extensively and to tourists (possibly foreigners that are not familiar with the city or the local language) - you are actually leveraging on their inferior position and their lack of power/alternatives.
Does this work differently than calling the front desk? I tried that a few times over the years and never got a price improvement over the online brokers or the hotel website itself.
That depends (now) from a lot of factors and until not so long ago the contract with booking.com didn't allow to publicize lower prices than what was on the booking.com site.
But it depends also on the hotel (how it is organized, if it is a chain, etc.).
Think at the front desk employee as an unsupervised/lazy employee of a largish organization.
You book through booking.com, it means less work for him/her and no change in his/her pay (but less revenue for the hotel).
I have had more than once conversations on the telephone with the front desk of an hotel, where they just told me to "go book online".
If I have no time I simply choose another hotel, if I have some spare time I call again and talk to the director about the matter.
Now think at the front desk employee as someone that has an interest in the income of the hotel (directly or indirectly) , the amount of work is the same (as there is not any "web reservation center" or the like) whether your booking is made by means of booking.com or directly (at the telephone and possibly with a confirmation e-mail) and he/she has the possibility to increase - even if slightly - the income of the company.
For me so far its worked everytime I am emailing the reservations team at a hotel. (I am in their trade though and tend to use my business email when booking)
I reckon phoning a hotel might be harder to get you a discount because most of the times the frontdesk staff won't put you through to the reservations rep because he might be unavailable or whatever so they'll just give you whatever price the system tells them which is what you'll get on their website if you go to book directly. Its important to be able to contact the person that can amend the booking prices and frontdesk staff usually can't do that.
There are many people that like straight and to the point. Most people would actually say they like it, although more are susceptible to these sales tactics than would like to admit.
Booking.com is actually one of the best experiences I have with reserving places. It's quick for me to reserve something, and in my experience works better than most alternatives. Airbnb would be a far better experience but it targets different properties.
While not being able to prove it I'm almost 100% certain that this is a bold faced lie.
I booked a hotel maybe a week in advance in Sapporo in the middle of Golden Week. Probably on the same day I received that slimy spam that "Prices in Sapporo just went down".
I think that's a lie because prices in Japan during Golden Week don't go down; never ever! Demand is so high during that time that this is just not believable in any way, shape or form.
Why slimey you ask? I think it's really shitty behavior by booking.com just having sold a property to then turn around trying to get me to cancel that property and book something apparently cheaper. I totally get why hotels hate booking.com with a vengeance when they use such scummy tactics against those entities they make their money from.
And I agree: The actual service works and is pretty good and they shouldn't need to hit you with tactics that are not that far off from that Nigerian gentleman who has a cool few million for you.
Oh yeah, and you make your choice, it loads the page where one supposed to enter the details, as you are about to type in your first name, a popup comes up “hurry up”. This is the moment when I always shout “fuck you booking.com”.
That’s kind of the point of this type of misdirection: they use less than honest tactics to make you feel good about your choice. You’ll never know what alternatives you may have otherwise chosen and how happy you would have been.
Edit: it occurs to me that this is much like the advantage that Amazon once had, for the period of my life when I bought pretty much everything via Amazon. Shame they've lost my confidence.
I use them sometimes, but from a company with such aggressive / dishonest marketing I would generally not expect any customer service worth the name. IIRC their terms and conditions exclude all responsibility whatsoever if the reservation does not work out, It's always the hotel's responsibility.
Luckily I have never had a case where I would have really had to contact their support.
tell different stories and honestly that's what I would fear.
And of course once I have a sense which hotel I want to stay at I try to book at their official site, so they don’t get charged an extortionate commission, and I get the points and elite status benefits.
The management style seems oddly European here (I guess it's a Dutch company), since "growth at all costs" in the US usually means to err on the side of the customer. Interestingly, Europeans like to copy virtually everything from the US, often without being aware of it, but there's always something lost in translation.
I frequently have to remind my mother (in her 70s, and tends to believe everything on the internet) not to rush through a Booking.com transaction because "rooms are selling out fast." Or not to favor Booking.com because she was given some "insider discount" (forgot the exact phrase) for repeat business.
As the article states, plenty of rooms are still available for a given hotel no matter what Booking.com claims. And that "insider discount"? I got the same price as her while logged in on a brand new account.
Is it the only way to succeed? Or profit >> reputation? Or the faceless-ness of online selling? Or the global economy?
What fundamentally changed since, say, 1980?
Isn't it surreal how quickly society snapped from, "never tell anyone your real name or where you live, never try anything that people tell you to do without independently verifying the advice first" to actively encouraging oversharing?
It feels odd to say this considering how nihilistic and distrustful the current zeitgeist is, but does anyone else get the feeling that many people who came online in the past decade or so are way too credulous and never received the cautions and warnings that we used to give new users as a matter of course? I don't think it's limited to older generations.
The most blatant piece of evidence for what they do is how they say "ONLY ONE ROOM LEFT AT THIS HOTEL" but when you go back and request two rooms, this changes to "ONLY TWO ROOMS LEFT AT THIS HOTEL" immediately.
During my time there, the company would never actually do something that was technically wrong (or lying), with a couple of exceptions where some individual went too far and wasn't caught in any review. There were certainly UI elements that were misleading or suggesting (never claiming) of something being a freebie when it was included in the chosen rate. These sort of changes consistently received internal criticism, but ultimately due to the outstanding A/B testing tooling, were shown to be worth too much money for the detractors to succeed. There were maybe a handful that were rolled back due to internal criticism.
In any case, it seems unlikely that booking would implement the change you describe.
NB: the actual availability was always controlled by the hotels, as were the prices - booking does not own inventory, unlike some of its competitors!
Edit: removed surplus punctuation.
booking.com##.cheapest_banner_content > *
That is why I have put together these filters. The social proof really works on me.
Once I turned up at an apartment which didn’t exist (it was a scam listing) and they were absolutely useless in helping us or issuing a refund.
I moved exclusively to Hotels.com since then who offer a free night for every 10 nights you book.
In this case allowing people to list their own properties on their website without checks was really bad for their brand.
I guess I should try hotels.com someday as well.
Just so folks are aware, there are essentially only 3 major OTA (online travel agency) brands:
Booking Holdings: Booking.com, Kayak, Priceline, Agoda (and also OpenTable)
Expedia Group: Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, Travelocity, VRBO (aka HomeAway), Trivago, Hotwire, Cheap Tickets, Wotif
AirBnB: AirBnB and Hotel Tonight
TripAdvisor is also standalone (they previously spun out of Expedia) but their business, based on recommendations, is a bit different than the others.
Also the fact that they charge you $5 to redeem rewards on the website but not their app suggestions there are some shenanigans going on.
Good book to raise your awareness about how you're being manipulated by sales and marketing.
Thus the proliferation of places lying about everything they can get away with, until they're caught / stamped on.
Resolving complaints after check-out is challenging and less likely to result in compensation. In the future, communicate any complaints to the property during your stay, so the staff can ensure the rest of your stay is comfortable.
My reply was: ok, there are choices. I switched to Google Maps, check reviews there, and prefer booking directly on the hotel/owner sites.
I had a brief stint working for a hotel booking competitor and, sometimes, a transaction would go through 3-4 hands, each taking commission, before reaching the hotel and I just hated that.
This spring we wound up stranded in Amsterdam for an evening and I needed to book a hotel fast. I checked booking.com and saw what was still available at the moment and I found a hotel - a double room on booking.com was 230EUR. I call the hotel, I tell them I want to book a room for tonight, total number of people etc. The receptionist comes back and tells me a double room is 285EUR. Do I want it? I do not. I went back to booking.com and reserved the room there.
I can also say that I had a problem with a dishonest property description (regarding parking) and complaining to Booking made them produce an underground parking space in 5 minutes - albeit this was before checking in.
Bcom and other OTAs negotiate discounted rates on your behalf, because they bring in so much volume they can pressure the suppliers. Similar to how Walmart gets rock bottom prices on goods.
Sometimes it's cheaper to directly contact, but often it is not.
Adding the following to your uBlock filter will do most of this and it takes you all of 30 seconds. It would take a while longer to update their SASS, recompile the CSS, test and get into production but I'd have thought a few weeks should be sufficient.
Put another way: if they were given an opportunity to do the opposite it would be done in a day or two.
Well, what you read into my writing is entirely your problem, but let's just say that you are far off the mark and it is precisely because I have couple of decades in IT behind me that I know that six months to stop doing something at this level is ridiculous.
> I have experience with travel industry, and I can tell with absolute certainty that there exist many projects (much younger than booking.com, by the way), where disabling something like that "in a day or two" is downright physically impossible.
I would hope that the level of competence at booking.com would be a little higher than that.
> Marketing and strategical issues aside, there wouldn't be a single person who could apply necessary changes in a day or two for any amount of money.
I'd be happy to give it a shot.
> It might sound crazy for an outsider, but that's just the way it is.
Or so you say. But the fact is that all software ever written did stuff because we tell it to and that disabling some bit of code is mostly matter of locating it. Writing new functionality can be very hard and might take a long time. But disabling something as simple as 'output ridiculous sentences that pressure our users into buying' should not be harder than to locate it and disabling it. If that has unintended side effects at the level that you are suggesting then booking.com has other problems.
Finally, I'm sure that if they wanted to make quick work of it they could disable that bit in the CSS for their website and make it pretty behind the scenes at their leisure. Anything that can be displayed can be hidden.
That is not true, in booking.com specific case, any competent frontend developer can do it in couple of days if they had to.
Now I expect them to change the price slightly in order to continue with the time limits.
After awhile government banned them to operate in Turkey. That was a good decision.
Meanwhile US govt, “we’ll give you bigger tax breaks, just keep on growing that GDP number, do whatever you want, walk over, track everything and manipulate visitors if you want, just give us your corporate billions when we run for elections”
Someone mentioned hotels.com which I'm going to try but there must be other players on this space.
Mobile website and app, from just now: https://imgur.com/a/9422eyt
On the map sorting by price is not possible, right? Or does my map view look different from yours? https://imgur.com/avyt3nr
It's funny how sometimes I wish legal institutions worked more like businesses, with processing fees on fines /s
But most generally a lot legal systems didn't catch up with globalization and tech gigantism and are still stuck in the 20th century, which leaves a lot of room for "legal arbitrage", the whole "disruption" business is built on that premise. There is the law, and actual law enforcement...
In one discussion, HN readers are upset if Facebook is made to filter misleading ads. "Let the market be free". And the slippery-slope argument is often used.
In others, HN readers want government to crack down on false/shady advertising. Or the negative externalities caused by the gig economy (Uber/Airbnb).
Can someone explain the difference. I don't think it's solely based on govt vs private industry doing the control.
HN commenters come from all over the world and have various backgrounds and viewpoints. Do you find that commenters always echo your viewpoints? Likely not, which should be proof right there that there are at least two camps. Trying to categorize such a large and varied group of people into a small number groups is likely going to be problematic, as is trying to simplify the positions of the commenters you read.
Here, so far, nobody seems to be siding with Booking.com. Small sample size perhaps. Unlikely to be herd-mentality.
It's pretty much just that, particularly when it comes to political advertising. Regulatory bodies operate with the full oversight of government and the courts; if they make poor decisions, they can be held accountable. Facebook are already frighteningly powerful and deputising them to be arbiters of truth only makes them more powerful.
Facebook should absolutely have mechanisms in place to facilitate swift and effective intervention by regulatory agencies, but they shouldn't be acting as a regulatory agency themselves.
1) In the former case, the question is: "Who decides what ads can and cannot be shown?"
Is it Facebook? No, people don't trust Facebook to have any clue about neutrality.
Is it government? Of course not.
Is it "an independent agency"? How do you determine 'independent'?
There is no appropriate regulator for what is and is not a fair ad. It's easy to block ads that contain hate speech. It's harder to regulate many types of "misleading".
2) Ads are a form of free speech and outreach to people. You can view advertisements as not even being connected to the service offering the placement. From Facebook/Google ads to billboards and TV, the point is to communicate a message. It isn't really for the host to decide what messages one can show to a very large audience, or to decide on censorship (goes back to point 1), beyond the obvious denial of ads with hate speech, inciting violence, etc.
The point is not the free speech of the advertisement provider. It's the free speech of the advertisers, and their freedom to get their message to people (irrelevant of popularity of the message).
3) The tactics used by Booking.com is fundamentally different. It's a company using deceptive practices to increase its own sales. There are no two parties here, nor is it an open market. It's the same company lying in its product to encourage conversions by deception. There is no advantage to free speech by allowing this to happen.
I do not support complete market freedom, although I support the two things you mentioned, and I think it may be true for many (most?) people. Companies cannot be trusted to regulate themselves in many sectors. Governments must always involve themselves to ensure fairness, real competitive behaviour and the protection of rights.
Furthermore, most people are incapable of dealing with things like deceptive practices themselves. And that's where governments have to step in. Unfortunately, although it would be an ideal world where people can make their own choices and everything is a free market, most people aren't able to live in such a world and would be exploited dry.
- Booking is a company using deceptive practices to increase its own sales
- Deceptive political ads, even outright lies, are free speech (because there is no measurable "sale"? Surely there is a benefit, likely larger the more they mislead.)
As far as political ads go, if something is a 'strategic lie'^, it's down to other campaigns to expose it as a lie. This comes down to point (1) of what I mentioned in my previous response; if we want to ban campaigns from spreading 'lies' there has to be a regulatory to decide what speech is and is not allowed on the basis of truth.
One possible solution is to have an incredibly independent branch of Congress do it, and any decision to reject an ad should be in public record with reasoning. But if this decision to reject was 'incorrect', exposure to the political content has been lost (the record of this branch won't nearly be as popular in access). There's too much subjectivity in the process by nature.
^: It's easier to censor blatant lies vs strategic lies. e.g. if you pull a figure out of thin air it's easier for any regulator to get away with saying it's a blatant lie and dishonest (eg: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-49701027). But many political ads are not such 'blatant lies', they're 'strategic lies'. They bend a fact (eg Vote Leave's bending of UK financial contributions to EU), or have a 'strategic' interpretation of something (deliberate misinterpretation to your advantage of a possibly vague statement of another politician), and they're usually worded 'strategically' to stay in a gray area. To regulate stuff like this is incredibly controversial because you're in a gray area of free speech.
The idea is that any person should be able to say anything and get their idea across to people, then it's up for people to determine whether they agree, disagree, or if they find it true or false.
If politics worked perfectly this would work without regulation. Other parties would expose it as a lie (or better yet, people do their research themselves) and people should care that a party is lying and hence it would count against the lying party. But since politics today sucks and people would stick with party through lies and deceit it doesn't seem to be working as well in practice.
Very many agree that Facebook cannot be trusted. They would ruin a good number of peoples lives a day given that 1) they could get away with it 2) they would earn more money that way.
Around here (Europe) however we already have kind-of-working regulations for ads and it would be nice to adapt those to work for booking.com as well.
Edit: removed "happily" in "happily ruin a good number of peoples lives" as I guess they'd rather prefer not to if it didn't cost them money ;-)
>'ultimately Booking believes in clear legislation and standards that apply to everyone in the industry'
us-based tech companies have been getting fines for GDPR(data privacy) violations, not false advertising.