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ASA Ruling Means Change for Travel Ads

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP), the advertising industry body responsible for the Code of practice that controls advertising content, has written to travel agents in the UK asking them to make sure that advertisements featuring special travel offers make it explicitly clear that the offers could be extremely limited.

The request follows a ruling by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in response to complaints from members of the public about an Expedia national press advertisement and e-mail with special offers for flights and holidays.  The complainants, who had been unable to book trips at the prices shown, had challenged the availability of the offers.  The ASA upheld the complaints because neither advertisement had made it clear that availability at the ‘from’ price (e.g. ‘from just £393’) was extremely limited.  CAP is asking all travel agents to give it a written assurance that they will amend their future advertising in line with the ASA’s ruling.

Roger Wisbey, Director of Advertising Policy and Practice, acknowledged that the ASA’s ruling had industry-wide ramifications but said that it was important that consumers were informed about limitations to special offers: “Consumers who complain to the ASA often try to book a flight or holiday at a ‘from’ price on the day they see the advertisement for it but are told it’s no longer available.  Making it clear in future ads that such offers may be extremely limited will give the public clearer information and help maintain their trust in the claims that travel advertisements make.”

Simon Bunce of ABTA (the Association of British Travel Agents) said they had advised their members to take note of the advice from CAP, acknowledge receipt of that advice and confirm they will make it clear that flight and holiday offers may be limited.