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

Just Posted

Eagle Valley Senior Citizens Housing Society expands mandate

Society to explore housing projects for low-income families and disabled people

No end in sight, smoke is here to stay

There is no anticipated change in weather for the Okanagan-Shuswap this week

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

Man found not guilty in 2011 drug-related shooting in Blind Bay

Judge rules Jeremy Davis couldn’t foresee his companion would kill 24-year-old Nick Larsen.

Fundraiser set up for family of New Zealand woman who died in Sicamous

Twenty-three-year-old was one of four people to jump from the Bruhn Bridge on Aug. 8

No growth on the Monashee Complex wildfires

Mabel Creek, Sugar Mountain and Harris Creek fires continue to burn near Lumby and Cherryville

Regional climate adaptation agriculture testing to expand in B.C.

Ottawa funds farm projects to conserve water, remove invasive species

VIDEO: B.C. brother-and-sister RCMP officers Amazing Race Canada Heroes Edition

Courtney and Taylor Callens have become the team to beat

TRU moves to outlaw cannabis use

Cannabis users could be banned from lighting up on Kamloops campus

Smoky jazz guitars

Francois Et Guillaume, aka Willy Gaw and Darrin Herting, fill the hot,… Continue reading

Classical arrangements showcased in Salmon Arm

Cantabile Chamber Ensemble perform Century of Masterpieces

Thomy Thisdale takes tunes indoors on a rainy day in Salmon Arm

Carbons’ frontman performs solo acoustic set

‘Can’t erase history’ by tearing down statues, Minister says

Environment Minister Catherine McKenna spoke on the contentious removal of John A. Macdonald

Kamloops RCMP warn ‘don’t buy jewelry on the street’

Kamloops RCMP are warning jewelry buyers to be aware of a scam.

Most Read