‘Online Booking of Hotels Banned’: What’s the Truth Behind the Viral Whatsapp Forward?

"In case your family members, colleagues or any known person is travelling to Ahmedabad, and if they have made a booking from Goibibo.com or MakeMyTrip.com they may face serious issues."

A message that is going viral on WhatsApp claims that websites like Goibibo and Make My Trip are now banned. As expected, it has created a wave of panic among those who have active bookings made on these sites.

Both the websites cater to flight, bus and hotel bookings across India and a ban could possibly mean that the pre-bookings will be cancelled.

But what is the truth behind this news?

Around 270 hoteliers in Ahmedabad, Gujarat are facing partnership issues with sites like Goibibo and Make My Trip. They complain that the websites overcharge the hotels and even give out offers without consulting the hotel management.

As a protest, the hoteliers have started canceling bookings that come through the websites.

Representative image. Source: Fredericknoronha/ Wikimedia Commons.

An official from the Hotels and Restaurants Association (HRA) had earlier warned, “In case your family members, colleagues or any known person is travelling to Ahmedabad, and if they have made a booking from Goibibo.com or MakeMyTrip.com they may face serious issues.”

However, unlike what the viral message suggests, no ban has been imposed on either of the websites. You can still book hotels on the websites, but the HRA claims they will cancel these bookings once you reach there and rebook the room, offline, at the same price.

Narendra Somani, the president of HRA, Gujarat has claimed, “We have notified customers that we will not serve those showing hotel booking vouchers provided by either of these portals. To prevent further inconvenience to customers, we have offered the rooms to them at the same rate, on the condition that they cancel the booking made through MakeMyTrip or Goibibo.”

The spokesperson also said that the protest has only started in Ahmedabad but is sure to spread in other parts of India. Maharashtra too, for instance, is against Goibibo and MakeMyTrip.

Source: Hashoo Foundation USA/ Flickr.

“Hoteliers in Bengaluru, Odisha, Indore, and Chandigarh have also been facing similar issues and will follow suit in boycotting the indiscriminate discounting policy of these portals,” Somani said.

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For the purpose of this story, The Better India contacted a hotel in Ahmedabad. The management informed us that their rooms could not be booked on Goibibo due to the ongoing strike, but if we made a booking through MakeMyTrip and paid in advance, they would not cancel the reservation.

Update: After we published this story, the official spokesperson of MakeMyTrip got in touch with us and issued the following statement: “As always, all bookings on our platform are being serviced without any hassle to the customer. We continue to operate our business as usual.”
On the other hand, when we tried reserving a hotel through Goibibo, there were no restrictions, and the booking went smoothly.

Some people have faced last-minute cancellations in the cities of Belgaum, Manali, and Siliguri, so the conditions of the protests can be subjective to the hotel you are staying at. It is best that you confirm the situation with the management in advance, to avoid any inconvenience.

(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)

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