OFT looks into MyTravel price claims

The Office of Fair Trading is investigating MyTravel's controversial 55% price cut campaign, potentially setting a precedent for other price-led marketing campaigns.

A complaint, possibly from a rival, was made to the OFT claiming that MyTravel's 'prices cut by up to 55% per person' campaign for its Airtours Summer 2003 holidays could be misleading to customers.

Rivals such as TUI and First Choice have publicly taken issue with the campaign, which compares the prices listed in Airtours' summer 2003 brochure with those of its summer 2002 brochure.

Critics argue that the summer 2002 prices were artificially inflated and not sold at those prices, so it is far from a genuine discount.

The message forms the basis of MyTravel's marketing strategy for the peak holiday booking season, which has already begun. The company is communicating it through huge posters in the windows of its 700 high street travel agencies (Marketing, December 12).

But rivals such as TUI UK managing director Chris Mottershead have accused MyTravel of "pushing it a bit far by making comparisons with last January's prices".

A spokeswoman for MyTravel responded: "We've obviously double-checked the legalities of making the claim and we're confident that the claim is fair and will stand up to scrutiny. It's a very strong campaign and I'm not surprised that our competitors are worried."

Separately, MyTravel has finally abandoned plans to rebrand its Going Places shops with its corporate name by the new year. The 153 shops already branded MyTravel will be converted to Going Places this week.

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