Book hotel directly or booking.com ?

Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 01:53 PM
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Book hotel directly or booking.com ?

Over the years, we have had similar discussions on the Forum.
But, I think there have been same changes , perhaps because of covid losses for the industry.
Normally. I would check hotels’ and booking.com rates first. If identical, I made a booking with booking.com for easy cancelation.
Last year , I found a couple of hotels offered a wider selection of rooms than listed on booking.com.
For the hotel I wanted to book in May, the rate was about €35 euros less per day on the hotel website than
booking.com, for the same room.
What has been your experience ?

Last edited by danon; Jan 23rd, 2023 at 01:57 PM.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 02:14 PM
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My experience is every situation is different. Sometimes the hotel site is cheaper, sometimes Booking is. Sometimes the hotel will match a lower Booking rate. If it is a lot of money and the hotel wants payment up front whereas Booking doesn't ask for payment till arrival -- that could be a difference maker. Cancellation policies can also make a difference.

All this to say -- it is really a case by case situation and there's no one hard and fast rule. For many of my trips I check 1) Booking, 2) the hotel's website, and 3) the airline's booking engine (like AAVacations and BA Holidays). Makes more work for me but I've got some tremendous discounts by doing the homework.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 02:24 PM
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I try to book directly, unless when using booking.com I can get better cancelation terms and/or a significantly better deal. If the difference is only a few dollars, I still book directly.
I've never had an issue canceling when I've booked directly, as long as the cancelation was within the terms.

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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 04:12 PM
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I almost always use Booking.com. Maybe I'm just lazy. I like their site because I can find a selection of hotels in a town I don't know and compare parameters like price, location, and user reviews without having to open and navigate several websites. That ability is value that Booking.com adds. The times I've looked at the hotel website for a booking the results have been mixed. Sometimes cheaper, sometimes more expensive, and some smaller hotels don't even have their own booking mechanism. So it just feels a lot easier to finish the job on Booking.com. And I may have to find something like six or more hotels for a trip of three weeks.

I should add that I prefer to stay in hotels and not AirBnb or other apartments. (Just two of us traveling.) I also strongly dislike the way Booking.com shows pricing for apartments, at least in the USA. I think it's deceptive and you have to really do the calculations to find the actual cost. I've tried to complain about this but can't get through to Booking.com customer service. Lucky I never had a big problem.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 04:32 PM
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I almost always use booking.com because their rates are lower than the hotels' rates. For example, we are going to Prince Edward Island in August. We are staying at 2 B&B's. Their rates on their website are higher than booking.com rates. If the rates are the same, I check cancellation policies. And what I have found so far is that booking.com has better cancellation policies. The cancellation policies are actually more important to me than the cost.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by KarenWoo View Post
I almost always use booking.com because their rates are lower than the hotels' rates. For example, we are going to Prince Edward Island in August. We are staying at 2 B&B's. Their rates on their website are higher than booking.com rates. If the rates are the same, I check cancellation policies. And what I have found so far is that booking.com has better cancellation policies. The cancellation policies are actually more important to me than the cost.
Over many years of travel , I have used booking.com for most of my hotel bookings, ,often the rates were better than direct booking.
As I mentioned, last year for the first time, I noticed more selection , different cancelation policy, and lover price on hotels’ webpages , at least
for the places I was interested in.
I agree , the cancelation policy is the number one priority.

Last edited by danon; Jan 23rd, 2023 at 05:12 PM.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 08:21 PM
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Rates , selection and cancelation are all set by the hotel on Booking.com. What you're seeing is just that hotel trying to maximize revenue.

I tend to book with booking just because it's easier to track everything. Right now I'm trying to decide if I should cancel a hotel or not. The reviews have gotten worse since I initially booked it. If you book direct far in advance you're unlikely to see a continual stream of reviews leading up to your stay.

I've also used booking enough that I sometimes get perks but I don't let the loyalty program sway me.

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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 09:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Traveler_Nick View Post
Rates , selection and cancelation are all set by the hotel on Booking.com. What you're seeing is just that hotel trying to maximize revenue.

I tend to book with booking just because it's easier to track everything. Right now I'm trying to decide if I should cancel a hotel or not. The reviews have gotten worse since I initially booked it. If you book direct far in advance you're unlikely to see a continual stream of reviews leading up to your stay.

I've also used booking enough that I sometimes get perks but I don't let the loyalty program sway me.
It is true that booking.com has a list of reviews, but that is easy to monitor without booking with them.
I booked two hotels direct recently, which is rare for me.
One hotel offered a lower price for the room I wanted . The other hotel I booked had a wider selection of rooms than b.com. - the room I preferred was not listed on b.com. ( same happened last year when I was looking for the specific hotel in Paris) .




Last edited by danon; Jan 23rd, 2023 at 09:53 PM.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 10:11 PM
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Most hotels in Europe prefer if you book directly and will give you the better rate.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 10:58 PM
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I use booking to research properties but will book directly when possible. Same as with purchasing airline tickets - look at discounters, but be sure you understand the fine print (no refundability, no changes, etc.) before finalizing. In general, it is also better to have a directly booked rez in case of irregular operations.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 11:00 PM
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There was an article recently in our local media which made the case that all hotel aggregators (e.g. booking.com, expedia) inflate the price of accommodation across the market. They do not allow accommodation providers to easily undercut their price on booking.com (or other aggregator).

If you book direct, you know that the provider is getting more of the price you pay. I confess though that sites like booking.com offer great convenience. They also offer accommodation providers greater visibility to potential customers.

One thing I've noticed recently on booking.com is that they sometimes offer to 'pay' a certain amount of the price. I'm not entirely sure how that works but guessing they are forfeiting some of their cut.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 11:00 PM
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Originally Posted by danon View Post
.
I booked two hotels direct recently, which is rare for me.
One hotel offered a lower price for the room I wanted . The other hotel I booked had a wider selection of rooms than b.com. - the room I preferred was not listed on b.com. ( same happened last year when I was looking for the specific hotel in Paris) .
That's not new. The hotels have always controlled the inventory.

On prices many hotels will use booking.com or other sites to avoid discounting their own rates. The moment the hotel website shows a lower price that sort of becomes the norm. OTOH the booking.com price doesn't really reflect on the hotel. If that makes sense.

But it's all up to the hotel.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2023, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by dreamon View Post
There was an article recently in our local media which made the case that all hotel aggregators (e.g. booking.com, expedia) inflate the price of accommodation across the market. They do not allow accommodation providers to easily undercut their price on booking.com (or other aggregator).


One thing I've noticed recently on booking.com is that they sometimes offer to 'pay' a certain amount of the price. I'm not entirely sure how that works but guessing they are forfeiting some of their cut.
You'll hear the exact opposite complaint from hotels. That booking etc drive down rates. The fact they show so many other options creates easy price discovery. In the old days it was much harder to compare five hotels. Today in a large city you might be checking the price of a hundred hotels all at once.

I think the portion they're covering is just to entice the hotel onto the website. They came out with a payment service not long before Covid hit and would give discounts on that .
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 12:14 AM
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Traveler_Nick, can you tell us more about the payment service? I have noticed that they now offer the choice of pay now or pay (automatically) a few days before arrival. Often no option to pay on arrival directly to the hotel like they used to.

If booking.com is taking early payment and investing that money on the money market, they would be generating income from that. Is that what it's about?
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 12:18 AM
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I'm never sure how much the price changes if you look at a particular hotel more than once.

I did have a recent example where the site said that the hotel was offering an 8% discount but the price was actually 100euro more for the stay than it was when I last looked. Not sure what was going on there.
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 12:58 AM
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How timely. I watched from tiktok recently about the scheme that a certain hotel that partnered with booking.com did some dirty. Here's the context - upon arrival, the guest who booked via booking.com showed and asked this hotel and was told that it had been closed long time ago but they offered accommodation as long as they'll pay again. Ofc, the guest did not since they already paid prior. After a long discussion, they offered a room but it's a different one, no window, the room was quite small but stayed anyway rather than spending another penny. Later on, another group of guest (family) had the same scenario, booked 4 rooms but gave 2 rooms only. Not sure, how did it happen.
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 01:17 AM
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My understanding is the payment service is mostly for private apartments. People who can't take credit card payments .

Be careful if you see payment in advance. That can be a third party deal and not direct with the hotel. Just before Covid they started offering "deals" off the other booking.com websites with prepayment. They have a different brand in Asia plus there is a Chinese company. These deals are usually cheaper but come with plenty of strings. IMHO not worth the discount. At least I've never seen one worth it.
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 01:40 AM
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I used to use Booking.com but now I try to avoid it, and all it's associated sites as much as possible. Sometimes it is hard to avoid it though.

They used to force hoteliers to accept their lowest price exclusively, so the hoteliers could not offer to match or offer a lower price and they couldn't offer the same room on other sites at the same price as Booking.com. In Europe that changed when the EU threatened action against Booking.com.
I went right off them during Covid when they took millions in state support from the Dutch government and a few months later still sacked a third of their workforce in Amsterdam, whilst giving the managers millions in bonuses and building a mega new HQ in Amsterdam.
It started as a Dutch company but now is owned by Priceline and has a poor reputation here, poor service, poor working conditions, failure to pay taxes etc etc.

I may look at the site t see what is available but I try hard not to use it if I can find details of the hotel/B&B/accommodation somewhere else. If I can't I find somewhere else to stay.
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 07:06 AM
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I usually use Booking.com because of the convenience but if they don't have the type of room I want available then I check with the hotel directly.
I did this just a few days ago. I'm planning my umpteenth trip to Italy in May and decided to make Lago Maggiore my last stop. Found a lovely hotel on Booking but no rooms with balcony and lake view available so I contacted the hotel directly. We had a lovely and cordial email exchange and I have booked a large room with a balcony and expansive lake and mountain view at an affordable price which is just slightly higher than the less desirable rooms on Booking.

On other occasions I have found the room prices on Booking comparable to hotel prices on their own websites.
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Old Jan 24th, 2023, 08:21 AM
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Some platforms offer better rates than booking.com, so I am not sure why the choice is just between the two. Agoda is sometimes less expensive. But I do check with a property directly if possible.
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