The process of booking travel through online travel agencies (OTAs) is directly at odds with the very essence of what travel should be. Rather than being a relaxing, stress free and enjoyable time, the very start of many travel experiences is mired in psychological manipulation.
The situation in the UK became so dire that the Competition and Markets Authority published a set of principles that set out what online accommodation booking companies need to do to ensure that they comply with consumer law. Sadly, UK consumer groups have said recently that some of those recommendations have still not been fully implemented, and in different Countries the issue persists.
According to Alexander Bentley-Sutherland, CEO and Co-Founder of BookDirectandSave.com, one of the fastest growing Direct Booking Platforms, “Online travel platforms have the opportunity to wield language as a powerful tool to influence consumer behavior. Phrases like “Hurry! Limited rooms available,” “Last chance to book,” or “Exclusive offer—ends soon!” create a sense of urgency and scarcity, triggering the fear of missing out (FOMO). This urgency compels users to make impulsive decisions, steering them towards booking quickly, often without careful consideration.”
Research by Worchel, Lee, and Adewole in 1975 demonstrated the Scarcity Principle. In their study, they found that when something is perceived to be in short supply or limited, individuals tend to assign it higher value. This perception of scarcity triggers a fear of missing out (FOMO), driving people to take action quickly to secure the perceived valuable resource—such as a limited hotel room availability.
“When travel booking sites use phrases like “limited availability” or “last chance,” they are leveraging the Scarcity Principle to create a sense of urgency, pushing potential customers to make impulsive booking decisions. The fear of missing out on a seemingly exclusive offer intensifies the desire to act swiftly and book the hotel.” Says Alexander Bentley-Sutherland. “The sense of urgency triggers an emotional response, overpowering rational thinking and prompting impulsive bookings.
While the urgency-driven approach may serve the interests of the OTA, it may not always align with the traveler’s best interests. Feeling pressured can lead to rushed decisions, potentially resulting in suboptimal choices. A relaxing and enjoyable travel experience begins with a calm and well-informed booking process, not one fueled by stress and haste, which could be why many Online Travel Agencies experience a massive cancellation rate.
Additionally, the use of pressure language can affect the perception of the hotel brand. Travelers who feel coerced or manipulated during the booking process may associate negative emotions with the ultimate brand they choose to stay at.
When faced with the multitude of options available on online travel booking platforms, individuals can often experience decision fatigue—a psychological phenomenon characterized by the deteriorating quality of decisions made as the number of choices increases. This overload of options may lead to anxiety and stress, prompting individuals to seek simplification and guidance in their decision-making process.
Alexander Bentley-Sutherland, the visionary behind BookDirectandSave.com, is rapidly emerging as a champion for consumer travel. Advocating for transparency and value, Bentley-Sutherland firmly believes in empowering travelers with clear and straightforward information, ensuring a no-surprise, trust-building experience for users exploring his platform.
“At Book Direct and Save, we are committed to offering travelers an honest, gimmick-free environment,” Bentley-Sutherland states. “Our platform meticulously avoids pressure tactics and fabricated urgency, only providing genuine deals and promotions designed to elevate your travel experience. We stand for real savings and undeniable value.”
Through encouraging travelers to book directly with hotels and accommodations, Bentley-Sutherland not only ensures personalized travel experiences and additional perks for the consumers but also fosters direct communication with properties. This, according to him, sets the stage for a travel experience that begins positively and aligns perfectly with travelers’ preferences and needs.
Bentley-Sutherland is on a mission: to positively alter consumer behavior in the travel industry, fostering a more honest and user-friendly booking environment. With his steadfast commitment and proactive approach, he is fast becoming recognized as a consumer travel champion, gaining significant traction among travelers seeking value and transparency.
A regular feature on various news channels, Bentley-Sutherland is readily available for comments or interviews and can be contacted here.
Samantha Greene, a psychology graduate from the University of Hertfordshire, has a keen interest in the fields of mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.