You are here: Home - Money Tips -

Booking sites push commission-paying hotels to top of rankings

Written by: Emma Lunn
At least eight major booking sites may rank hotels higher in their search results if they’re paid commission for reservations, according to an investigation by

The money saving site warns holidaymakers to keep their wits about them to be sure they’re getting the best deal.

When you search for a hotel via a hotel broker or comparison site, the default results usually show ‘recommended’ or ‘top pick’ hotels, chosen according to the site’s algorithms. Price, location, reviews and other factors relevant to customers usually feed in to this.

But (MSE) found that about half of the big hotel booking sites also factor in the commission they receive for bookings in their default rankings.

It claims that a hotel may be ranked higher than similar alternatives if a booking site is paid, or paid more, when a customer makes a reservation.

Eight sites including, Expedia and Kayak admit that commission may affect rankings – and all clearly state this to customers on their sites.

Other sites, including and Skyscanner, told MSE that any commercial agreements have no impact on rankings.

The investigation comes after the Competition and Markets Authority stressed earlier this year that sites should be clear to customers if rankings may be affected by commission. It warned that default search rankings are ‘crucial’ for many when choosing a hotel.

How do different sites’ default results rank hotels?

MSE looked at the default search rankings of some of the hotel booking sites most commonly used by UK customers. It found eight of the 14 it checked consider commercial factors when returning results.

The eight sites are:

  • Agoda
  • Ebookers
  • Expedia
  • Kayak
  • Trivago

MSE found that the algorithms used to rank hotels in searches are complicated and differ from site to site.

As multiple factors are typically involved and it’s not always clear which hotels sites are paid to feature, it’s impossible to give specific examples of when individual hotels have been ranked differently. But it’s possible a hotel may be ranked higher than similar alternatives due to the fact it earns the booking site more money.

Guy Anker, deputy editor at, said: “Ranking hotels based on commission could be harmful to users, but you could argue that sites are at least being transparent about their practices. Yet don’t see the fact that a hotel booking site could skew its rankings as a reason not to use one. After all, they may still offer the best price.

“But you’ll need to keep your wits about you to find the best deal, so don’t automatically go for the hotel at the top of the search. Before choosing, read reviews, compare prices between sites and the hotel direct, and also check location, booking flexibility, room type and what extras are provided, such as breakfast.”

There are 0 Comment(s)

If you wish to comment without signing in, click your cursor in the top box and tick the 'Sign in as a guest' box at the bottom.

Your right to a refund if travel is affected by train strikes

There have been a wave of train strikes in the past six months, and for anyone travelling today Friday 3 Febru...

Could you save money with a social broadband tariff?

Two-thirds of low-income households are unaware they could be saving on broadband, according to Uswitch.

How to help others and donate to food banks this winter

This winter is expected to be the most challenging yet for the food bank network as soaring costs push more pe...

What will happen if rates change

How your finances will be impacted by a rise in interest rates.

Regular Savings Calculator

Small regular contributions can build up nicely over time.

Online Savings Calculator

Work out how your online savings can build over time.

DIY investors: 10 common mistakes to avoid

For those without the help and experience of an adviser, here are 10 common DIY investor mistakes to avoid.

Mortgage down-valuations: Tips to avoid pulling out of a house sale

Down-valuations are on the rise. So, what does it mean for home buyers, and what can you do?

Five tips for surviving a bear market mauling

The S&P 500 has slipped into bear market territory and for UK investors, the FTSE 250 is also on the edge. Her...

Money Tips of the Week