The travel agency that owns a website hosting company could be a scam, according to a new study.
Travel agencies, who often work for large corporations, have become targets of scammers after they became known to the public for their poor customer service.
The study of nearly 1,000 travel agencies found that almost all of them were using an advertising platform to lure consumers to their websites and charge for services.
According to the study, which was conducted by research firm Korn Ferry, a scam is defined as “a fraudulent marketing ploy that uses deceptive tactics to make consumers believe the advertised services are available.”
“This is a very common scam, and it has increased in popularity in the last year,” said Michael E. Oster, a senior research analyst at Korn Fisher.
“They are not selling a product, they are marketing an offer.”
Oster and the study’s co-authors looked at over 3,000 companies in the travel industry, including travel agencies, travel travel agencies that sell tickets, hotels, and resorts.
The research team also reviewed the websites of nearly 500 travel agencies and found more than 80% of them had used the advertising platform.
“These travel agencies are not only offering services but they are using their advertising platform, which allows them to target their advertising directly to consumers,” Oster said.
The findings suggest that most travel agencies use an advertising service that is “generally well-known and recognized for providing high-quality service,” according to the research.
For the study researchers, “an advertising service is defined in the industry as an advertising system that uses a mix of targeted advertising, click-through advertising, and sponsored content to promote a product or service,” they said.
“Advertising platforms are generally well-defined and recognized in the marketplace.”
For instance, a travel agent who sells tickets on travel sites such as Ticketfly, Stubhub, and TripAdvisor is not considered an advertising company.
Oster said that if an agency wants to get its name out, it needs to create a high-profile name, and that does not happen in the case of travel agencies.
The research team found that only about two out of three travel agencies had any kind of website that was a trusted resource for consumers.
And about 40% of travel agency websites had been created by an outside company that did not belong to the company that owns the website, the study said.
“If an agency does not have a credible name and has not created an effective website, consumers should be wary of the service they receive,” said Korn Ferry CEO Mike Oster.
The researchers said that travel agency website owners need to take steps to be transparent about their website and avoid making misleading claims about the products they offer.
For example, “the company that manages the website should disclose that it does not offer travel packages and does not provide any discounts,” Oter said.
Another important step is to use a good name, because that will attract customers, the researchers said.
For example, a reputable name will help the agency get more customers.
Oter said it is important to be upfront about what is offered in a travel package.
“You cannot advertise on a website without giving an honest description,” he said.
Travel agents need to be aware that if they advertise a product that is not actually offered in the package, they could be creating a scam.
“A lot of travel agents advertise that they provide hotels, but it is actually a bait and switch,” Oker said.