Price Comparison Sites Beware: Expedia, Hotels.com Agree To Make Key Changes After Lawsuit

Web sites providing E-Commerce price comparisons—especially those that point consumers to local brick-and-mortar locations—may want to consider adding features that could benefit physically disabled consumers. Either that or risk the fate suffered by Expedia and Hotels.com.

Following a lawsuit, Expedia and Hotels.com have agreed to augment their sites' search capabilities so people with disabilities can find and book hotel rooms that accommodate their special needs. The hotel-booking sites were sued in California Superior Court" on the grounds that they did not provide ways for people with disabilities to determine whether hotels offered special accommodations.

In a settlement, Hotels.com and Expedia agreed to revise their Web sites to include filter options for accessibility features on the hotel search pages. They will also present a field for accessibility features in the "Quick Facts" section of their property summary pages. This field will be shown only for hotels that say, in response to a survey, they offer accessibility features. In addition, lists will be provided of the accessibility features in the sites' full description pages and there will be drop-down menus of those features on the reservations pages.

Both Hotels.com and Expedia will clearly define the accessibility features as well as provide users with instructions on how to use their sites' new search tools. "Our settlement has the potential to revamp the entire travel industry if competitors of Hotels.com and Expedia realize this is a win-win situation for both disabled consumers and the travel industry," said Victoria Ni, a lawyer with Public Justice, one of the plaintiffs' law firms, in a statement.

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