Visitors pass by a rural homestay in Shaoyang, Hunan province. (TENG ZHIZHONG/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Travel platforms have said they will tighten scrutiny and take action against hotel or homestay operators that overcharge or mislead customers during the May Day holiday that runs from April 29 to May 3.
Lured by the profit potential of increased demand, some hotel and homestay operators have encouraged customers to cancel their bookings for the holiday in order to raise rates and resell rooms.
Some users on microblogging platform Weibo complained that homestay operators had phoned them asking them to cancel reservations using excuses such as the homestay going out of business or it being demolished.
Yao Junchang, co-founder of Beijing Weiheng Law Office, said that it's a breach of contract for homestay or hotel operators to unilaterally raise room prices or persuade customers to cancel bookings, and they could be ordered to pay compensation of up to three times the contract price.
"Travel platforms have lax supervision over these operators. Customers can sue the hotel or homestay operators, as well as the platform, or complain to consumer associations and administrative departments," he said.
Fan Dongxiao, director of after-sales service at travel portal Tuniu, said that the platform has very strict entry standards for hotels and homestays, and will enhance communication and supervision over operators to protect platform users' rights.
"The platform will negotiate with hotel operators to work out a solution for customers," she said.
Travel portal Fliggy said recently that when homestay operators breach a contract, the platform will arrange for the customers to check into nearby homestays, and absorb the price difference, which can be up to three times the room charge.
Some provinces and cities have released notices tightening market regulation during the May Day holiday.
Jiangsu Customer Council reminded that while it's understandable for hotels to raise prices in a reasonable range because of increasing demand during the holiday, they should mark the price clearly without selling rooms at exorbitant rates.
Changsha in Hunan province said in a notice released earlier this month that customers can report or complain of any illegal or improper behavior with regard to raising prices during the holiday to related government bodies.