International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law 2023

MODERNISATION OF INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CONSUMERS -informed on online tourism services marketplaces. The following acting is always considered as unfair commercial practice: o provision of search results in response to a consumer’s online search query without clearly disclosing any paid advertisement or payment specifically for achieving higher ranking of products within the search results.97 The payment of an advertisement, or the payment for a higher rank are by themselves not considered to be unfair commercial practices. However, consumers must be informed, in a clear and transparent way, about whether a higher rank has been paid. This information must be given in a concise, easily accessible and understandable form,98 or otherwise consumers are deprived of the essential information on which their decision on the selection of offer must be based. In the context of online tourist services market, this type of information is crucial for the selection of a tourism service. The circumstance that the rank of a tourism service is determined by the payment of a higher rank has impact on the consumer’s attitude regarding the extent to which the selection of a tourism service can be based on search results; o stating that reviews of a product are submitted by consumers who have already used or purchased the product without taking reasonable and proportionate steps to check that they actually originate from such consumers.99 As already said, the provider of the online marketplace is not obliged to expressly state that the reviews are submitted by consumers who have previously used or purchased the product. In principle, there is no obligation to check whether the reviews are authentic.100 However, if the provider expressly states that the reviews have been posted by consumers who had actually used or purchased the product, then the provider of the platform must take reasonable steps to check this circumstance101 and inform the consumers accordingly;102 97 See Annex I UCPD, point 11a. 98 See recital 20, Omnibus Directive. In recital 20 of the Omnibus Directive, it is specifically explained that various forms of indirect payment may also be considered as payments for the purpose of attaining a higher rank (e.g. increased commission per transaction or different compensation schemes that specifically lead to higher ranking). 99 See Annex I UCPD, point 23b. 100 In that regard see also, the provisions of Directive on electronic commerce o liability of intermediary service providers apply to the provider of online marketplace (Arts 12-15). See Busch (2016), p. 237. 101 In recital 47, the Omnibus Directive lays down, for example, that such steps could include technical means to verify the reliability of the person posting a review, for example by requesting information to verify that the consumer has actually used or purchased the product.” 102 See Art. 7/6 UCPD.