13th February 2024 – (Hong Kong) A mainland PhD student planning to return home for the holidays via Hong Kong was recently spotted sleeping among “McRefugees” after getting shocked by astronomically high hotel rates on Chinese booking app Fliggy. An investigation by a local media outlet found no evidence of the sky-high prices, with different platforms varying by no more than HK$300.
The student was stunned to see top search results on Fliggy exceeding HK$120,000 per night, deciding to forgo hotels entirely and experience his first night of homelessness in Hong Kong. The media outlet compared rates across three hotels on four booking platforms popular in Hong Kong and mainland China, including Fliggy, Meituan, Klook and Agoda.
While some variance emerged, no exorbitant prices close to what the student claimed appeared. Fliggy and Meituan offered the lowest rates, averaging 15-20% cheaper than Hong Kong-based platforms Klook and Agoda for the same rooms. For example, Fliggy showed one guesthouse room available for just HK$375, nearly 20% less than on Agoda.
The high-end Peak View Hotel was the only exception, with Klook beating Fliggy’s rate by HK$135.
The hotel linked to the student’s shocking HK$120,000 rate does not offer such premium rooms, with normal rates of around HK$1,000 on its website. The hotel responded it has no business ties or engagement with Fliggy whatsoever and was unaware of the anomalous prices shown. It advised travellers to consult only official hotel channels for accurate rates.
Fliggy explained hotel listings are added by third parties, a common industry practice. The platform acknowledged the extremely high rates were abnormal and swiftly removed the listings, thanking the media for bringing the issue to its attention. Fliggy said price fluctuations tied to supply and demand are normal, but it implements monitoring mechanisms and patrols to catch unreasonable holiday spikes, protecting consumer rights.
Industry insiders revealed mainland booking platforms likely secure lower rates in Hong Kong due to their vast customer base and stronger bargaining power, sometimes via exclusive partnerships. However, pricing advantages on different platforms constantly shift. Experts advise travellers to compare multiple apps when looking for the best deals.
Hotels admitted their websites virtually always show higher prices than third-party apps unless customers are members. Lowering rates directly risks lower prominence on booking platforms, which hotels rely on for sales. The best bet for travellers remains diligently comparing all options.
While the Fliggy glitch was an isolated incident, it illustrates the value of being an informed customer in Hong Kong’s complex hospitality market. Taking the time to research always pays off.