The Moon Water Lodge on Vancouver Island was showing up in Google searches as an Expedia property, even though the business owners are not Expedia clients. (Moon Water Lodge/Facebook)

B.C. hotel says Expedia cost them customers

Vancouver Island couple receives ‘overwhelming’ support from community, other businesses

Lori and Randy Strandlund opened their dream luxury hotel four years ago.

The Moon Water Lodge, located on Vancouver Island, boasts a breathtaking view of the Saanich Inlet. Soon after opening, thinking of ways to get more business, the Strandlunds researched online booking engines and had narrowed it down to Booking.com and Expedia, and ultimately decided Booking.com was the better fit.

In the summer of 2016, Lori said a customer drove from Sidney to book a room at the hotel because every time he tried to book it on Expedia, it said it was sold out, which he thought was a little strange.

So she started a file and searched for their hotel on Expedia. She said she found the same thing, all the rooms were sold out and the phone number listed redirected people to Expedia customer service staff.

“I didn’t think to check the website [Expedia] before because we didn’t use them,” Lori said.

The next day she called Expedia as a customer and tried to book a room at her own hotel. When customer service said there were no rooms available she tried many other dates where she knew there were openings, and customer service continued to say it was fully booked and insisted that there were other properties in the area to choose from, she said.

She then contacted Expedia administration, and they said there was a glitch in the system, and that they would fix it and “as far as we knew it was fixed,” Lori said. Eight months later, Moon Water conducted an evaluation of their presence online and Lori’s assistant found another Expedia listing that was once again claiming the Lodge was sold out.

Lori requested a meeting with the B.C. and area representative for Expedia. As compensation, the representative offered Lori a reduced commission on sales for a period of time, to which she countered asking for travel credit, but Expedia said they couldn’t offer that.

The issue was that Moon Water Lodge was not supposed to be on Expedia, but it had a placeholder for the site, and if people clicked on it, it potentially diverted the Lodge’s business elsewhere. Lori estimates that they have lost around $200,000 in revenue per year as a result of this listing.

She noted 70 per cent of their business comes from Booking.com with another 20 per cent through walk-in business and their own website.

She started digging for other possible companies that have encountered this and found a class action lawsuit in California against the travel company, but Moon Water’s case could not be included because it’s a Canadian company.

Expedia said in a statement that the California case was a different issue altogether from Moon Water’s. “This case [in California] involved a coding process that allowed hotels that had not completed contracting to be fully viewable and searchable on Expedia Group’s websites.”

Lori contacted a lawyer in Vancouver, who suggested there was definitely a case, but it would be a lot of work for Moon Water to find people in the same situation to put together a class action lawsuit, and recommended she join Expedia to gain that added revenue.

Lori said she and Randy took time to separate business and emotions and decided to take another look at signing on with Expedia. But she didn’t want to support a company that she felt was doing something wrong.

For the Strandlunds to do business with Expedia, Lori said her husband would want a public apology from the company and some kind of monetary settlement for what they’ve lost, and for Expedia to discontinue this business practice. Lori said she echos Randy’s wishes and would want to be assured that the laws and accountability in Canada prevent Expedia from using companies that aren’t clients to drum up business to those who are clients.

Expedia said in a statement a placeholder site was created for Moon Water during the conversations about listing the property with Expedia Group, but neither Moon Water or the placeholder were made available on Expedia. Due to an issue with Expedia’s process Google’s web crawling tool found the placeholder site for Moon Water, causing it to appear in specific searches, but it doesn’t display room rates or availability for the Lodge.

“This is the first time we have seen this particular issue. We are currently working to fix the glitch so that the site cannot be viewed under any circumstances. We have also contacted Google to ensure that their search results are updated to not show this website in the future.”

Lori and Randy have received an outpouring of support from small business owners, customers and lawyers. She said the small businesses said they will not use the site, and lawyers have reached out saying they would provide legal services free of charge if Moon Lake was to win a settlement.

Lori isn’t sure what lies ahead of them and their hotel, but she’s is thankful to the public for the support. “I feel like it’s going in the right direction,” she said.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

lindsey.horsting@goldstreamgazette.com

malahat

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Wildsight turns a sour situation into sweet online learning

The group is offering a variety of resources for home learning

Chamber launches localized workforce attraction website

The Work in Fernie website intends on bringing workers to the Elk Valley during the off season

Fernie Heritage Library sparks sweet summer fun

The library hosted their annual Lemonade Social on June 24

Interior Health will not expand Police and Crisis Team

Southeast Division Chief Superintendent Brad Haugli asked IH to expand the program

Elk Valley locals mountain bike for mental health

Strahan Loken leads a summer solstice fundraiser for the Elk Valley Suicide Task Force

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

B.C. teacher loses licence after sexual relationships with two recently-graduated students

The teacher won’t be allowed to apply for a teaching certificate until 2035

Most Read