CAP issues guidance on travel marketing

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The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Executive has published guidance on travel marketing availability and pricing in response to a number of complaints from consumers.

The rules around prompts and inducements to customers in advertising have been explored in previous Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) rulings, although not yet in relation to the travel industry specifically.  The CAP Executive notes that functions such as a countdown clock to indicate the time left to claim a certain offer, informing consumers of the number of others interested in the offer or guaranteeing best prices against other advertisers, may be problematic unless supported by adequate evidence and market analysis.

The guidance in relation to pricing summarises the current position and reminds travel marketers that advertised costs must include all non-optional fees, that no fee can be charged to a consumer based on their method of payment and that ‘free’ flights and seats must only be advertised as such if there are no costs whatsoever to the consumer, including taxes or charges. Any prices stated as “from £X” must include a significant proportion of the product or service available at the lead fare and, travel marketers are advised to retain evidence to substantiate that the savings claimed are genuine.

The ASA has previously upheld several complaints about advertising which did not make it clear they referred to the price at the last update, which was subject to change, or how the consumer could find the most up-to-date price. This is a developing area and one in which we expect clear industry specific precedent and further guidance in the future.

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Jennifer Howell

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