ASTA said that a Marriott International advertising campaign that encourages customers to book on Marriott.com is misleading and should be scrapped.

“Marriott's new marketing campaign, which tells consumers that they can only find the best rates on Marriott.com, is not only disparaging to travel agents, but also misleading to the traveling public,” ASTA CEO Zane Kerby said in a statement. “It is incomprehensible that Marriott would position itself as just another price-driven brand while intentionally disparaging the same professional travel agents that Marriott selects to help market its services.” 

Marriott this month launched a campaign featuring comedian and YouTube personality Grace Helbig. The marketing effort promotes Marriott’s website as having the best rates and includes the tagline, “It pays to book direct.”

Marriott has posted three one-minute spots on its YouTube channel.

In a statement, Marriott responded, “We highly value our relationship with travel agents and recognize the service they offer to customers. The current digital marketing campaign is simply another common practice effort to create awareness of our existing site to inform customers who choose to make their own reservations.”

ASTA also took issue with Marriott last November, after the company announced a policy offering free WiFi only to customers who booked full-service hotels through Marriott-owned channels. Kerby at the time said the policy discriminates against travel agency customers.
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This report was updated on Thursday afternoon to add Marriott's response to ASTA's complaint.

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