Book hotel directly or booking.com ?

Old Feb 11th, 2023, 06:11 PM
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I have used Booking.com for reserving hotels exactly once in many years of travel.

I do spend a lot of time on the site if I am deciding between several hotels--I read the reviews in detail. The photos on booking.com are often the same photos as on the hotel's website.

But once I've decided on a hotel, I go to the hotel's website, look at the various rooms/prices, and then contact the hotel directly by e-mail to reserve. I prefer to do this rather than use the search engine on the hotel's site. Sometimes, I ask about various guest rooms, or ask the hotel to book a restaurant for me before my date of stay. But there are rare times when the hotel does not respond to my e-mail(s). If that happens, I book with the hotel's booking site (not booking.com) and follow up with an e-mail, and questions if I have any. And in case of cancellation, I write directly to the hotel to cancel, with apologies.

One reason for booking directly with the hotel is that the hotel will not have to give a cut to the search engine..like booking.com. Does anyone know how much accommodations have to pay to these third party websites?
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Old Feb 12th, 2023, 04:45 AM
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I understand the logic of booking with the hotel directly, but why via email? It would seem the hotel’s own booking system is more foolproof than some office clerk. What if said clerk fails to enter your cancellation timely?
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Old Feb 12th, 2023, 01:05 PM
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I wrote, above, how I book (usually) by sending an e-mail directly to the hotel. If I want to cancel before arrival, I send an e-mail requesting cancellation of my booking. If for some odd reason that the hotel tells me they have never received my cancellation, I have an e-mail to show that I had, indeed, cancelled. So that is the number 1 option, if I am charged for a cancellation. The #2 option is to just cancel the charge on my credit card.

In my many years of extensive travel, no hotel has charged me the room price if I have already cancelled. Nor have I had any problem with e-mails. In many cases, the e-mail opens up a dialog with the person who books the room. I then have a name attached to any correspondence (in my case, correspondence usually centers around restaurant reservations, but can also help with making a room choice or even hiring a driver)

What do you mean by "office clerk?" In my own experience, the person who communicates with me via e-mail is either a hotel reservation agent, or the owner of a small family run hotel, not a random "office clerk."

This is the system that works for me, and it has worked well for many years, dating from the time when I had to write actual letters to book a hotel room!
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Old Mar 16th, 2023, 02:42 PM
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I just had my booking cancelled. I booked it thru booking.com because the hotel where we were supposed to be staying in doesn't have an official page. Unfortunately, the cancellation fee was 50% from the total payment. I requested to charge the cancellation fee less since it hasn't been a day since I booked it but my request was not granted. I don't know if it'd be different if I directly booked my hotel accommodation through them. I just couldn't find their official page.
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Old Mar 16th, 2023, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by travelwhileyoucan
I just had my booking cancelled. I booked it thru booking.com because the hotel where we were supposed to be staying in doesn't have an official page. Unfortunately, the cancellation fee was 50% from the total payment. I requested to charge the cancellation fee less since it hasn't been a day since I booked it but my request was not granted. I don't know if it'd be different if I directly booked my hotel accommodation through them. I just couldn't find their official page.
Something here seems just wrong..how could you not find the actual contact with said lodging? Shall we help? Where and what name?
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by travelwhileyoucan
I just had my booking cancelled. I booked it thru booking.com because the hotel where we were supposed to be staying in doesn't have an official page. Unfortunately, the cancellation fee was 50% from the total payment. I requested to charge the cancellation fee less since it hasn't been a day since I booked it but my request was not granted. I don't know if it'd be different if I directly booked my hotel accommodation through them. I just couldn't find their official page.
Did you request the cancelation? Or was the booking cancelled by the hotel? It sounds like you mean the hotel cancelled. If the hotel cancelled you shouldn't have to pay. OTOH if you cancelled you're bound by whatever terms you agreed to.

Different hotels will have different rules.
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 05:51 AM
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(Speaking of booking.com questionable behaviour)

Originally Posted by northie
good to know.i avoid companies who think this sort of behaviour is ok .
I don't condone corporate maltreatment of employees or shady manipulation of tax breaks. However, I question whether individual hotels are any more virtuous. I live in a tourist area, and know of many instances of deplorable treatment of employees by hotels and restaurants, mostly requiring extra unpaid work as a condition of employment. There are also hotels and restaurants that accepted government assistance to maintain payrolls during the pandemic, and fired staff regardless.

I recently learned of a dishwasher who was required to work 16 hours straight more than once, although paid only for the official hours on her contract. She is also routinely required to turn up for unscheduled shifts. On paper her contract is all very nice, but the reality of her working conditions is deplorable.
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Old Mar 19th, 2023, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by ekscrunchy
Something here seems just wrong..how could you not find the actual contact with said lodging? Shall we help? Where and what name?
I just couldn't find it on google. It's iStay.Inn in Singapore, I availed the bunk bed mixed dormitory since we will just need a place for our luggage and take a city tour.
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Old Mar 19th, 2023, 07:44 PM
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A quick search (less than 2 minutes) made it obvious the iStay.inn is a hostel that actually does not have a web site.

But your post is not clear - did you cancel, or did the hostel cancel, or did Booking cancel??

( but reading the reviews on Booking - I personally sure wouldn't stay there, small windowless rooms, no lockers, etc. Not sure where you'd leave your luggage? Seems extremely bare bones.)

Last edited by janisj; Mar 19th, 2023 at 07:47 PM.
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 12:49 AM
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Originally Posted by janisj
A quick search (less than 2 minutes) made it obvious the iStay.inn is a hostel that actually does not have a web site.

But your post is not clear - did you cancel, or did the hostel cancel, or did Booking cancel??

( but reading the reviews on Booking - I personally sure wouldn't stay there, small windowless rooms, no lockers, etc. Not sure where you'd leave your luggage? Seems extremely bare bones.)



I would like to addd to this post and hope to have time later. I had a long conversation with the front desk manager of my current hotel (in Madrid) about guests using third-party agencies such as Booking.com. In short, this gentleman told me that most of their guests do use Booking or other third party sites. I was very shocked to learn this. In fact, one of the first things he said to me upon welcoming me was that ".......Sra X, I see that you have booked directly with us and I want to thank you for that." I will describe more later..
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 01:50 AM
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Originally Posted by ekscrunchy
In short, this gentleman told me that most of their guests do use Booking or other third party sites. I was very shocked to learn this.
Why would you be shocked? It's like saying thirty years ago most people used the yellow pages. Even if you travel often you need some way to find a room. I guess you could wait to arrive and read the notices on the railstation wall
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Old Mar 20th, 2023, 03:34 AM
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In my youth, there were hotel booking services in train stations and in some airports. The offices in London and Paris were excellent. They asked for your budget, the part of the city you preferred, and any special requests, and they found a hotel, which they then called to see if there was a vacancy. If so, they made the reservation for you.

There were also touts in airports and train stations, but these weren't terribly reliable.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 01:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bvlenci
In my youth, there were hotel booking services in train stations and in some airports. The offices in London and Paris were excellent. They asked for your budget, the part of the city you preferred, and any special requests, and they found a hotel, which they then called to see if there was a vacancy. If so, they made the reservation for you.

There were also touts in airports and train stations, but these weren't terribly reliable.


BVLENCI, Do I remember those train station room finding desks? Or course!! One of the experiences with those that has stayed with me was the night I rolled into Florence on an Italian holiday. The room "assigned" to me was a hostel jammed with young Nigerian male students who were long-time residents. And then there was me...the only female at the ripe age of about 19! And like many places, this one lacked "en suite" bathrooms, so I would line up with all the male (and very friendly) students to take my turn at the sink and the toilet.

Not only that, when I got a trifle more experience, I remember writing actual letters, with stamps (!!) to book hotel rooms. Then, armed with Tony and Maureen Wheelers' SOUTHEAST ASIA ON A SHOESTRING," I would board the usual train routes where every last foreigner had a copy of the same well-thumbed" yellow bible." Of course we swapped these out upon leaving. And then there was the black "Bible," the Moon Guide that instilled in me a lifelong love for Indonesia and which I wish with all my heart that I still had today.

Yeah, TRAVELER Nick..we did not only have the yellow pages in the days before you associated an apple with a (usually red) fruit!!

And guess what..some of us DO know how to use booking.com. I read the reviews on that site pretty obsessively (How many hours have I just spent poring through them for a forthcoming multi-stop drive around Sicily? Who knows....reading them can be addictive!?

But when it comes to the actual booking, how difficult is it to e-mail the chosen hotel directly and give one's info to secure the room? Not hard for me, so I do not need to go to the "Library," (place where a person can borrow an actual book for FREE, then read it and return for the next person's pleasure; they even have actual GUIDEBOOKS in those "libraries!!!" (For us dinosaurs who still use said guidebooks) Why book through booking.com when I can make a personal contact with my chosen hotel, inquire about the various rooms, maybe request that the hotel book a restaurant, or three, for me......and develop what often turns out to be a bond way before I arrive. And after that conversation with the manager of my current hotel, I am even more cemented in my routine of booking directly with a hotel/inn/agriturismo, etc etc etc.

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Mar 21st, 2023 at 01:15 AM.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 04:30 AM
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the Moon Guide that instilled in me a lifelong love for Indonesia and which I wish with all my heart that I still had today.
There is one first edition for sale on abebooks.com - it's in the Netherlands and the seller doesn't have a good rating, but it's not expensive.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 08:47 AM
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Its not difficult to email a hotel but it is time consuming if you travel a lot, to manage replies and queries this way. Booking thru a 3rd party you have instant confirmation for many hotels and most hotels websites are themselves linked to other 3rd parties, not many hotels can afford to create bespoke booking websites with real time rates and inventory. For some smaller properties, 3rd party websites have given them visibility they might not have had before. Booking online gives a safer way to advise credit card details for guarantee purposes, credit card by email is not advisable at all, it is not a secure way to part with your data and I am surprised that hotels accept this info (if they do) on an unencrypted email.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 09:03 AM
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I remember the old days too -- Europe with a backpack in the 1960's and 70's. We would arrive by train, go to the TI or the in-station booking office, stand in line, and then get a hotel through the agent there. These people were really helpful and this system actually worded pretty well.

I also use Booking.com a lot now and I like it. It's especially useful when planning a trip to a new area that I'm not familiar with. I'm careful to read room descriptions, customer reviews, and booking conditions. If I'm returning to a place I know I try to book directly with the hotel. But it's 50-50, half the time these (often small) hotels have just a simple website that takes you to a third party booking site anyway.
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 03:23 PM
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After I started this thread , I booked the hotel in Madrid direct..(better rate than booking.com) ,
A couple of weeks ago, a friend decided to join me in Madrid . She booked the same hotel with booking .com ., it was a better rate than direct at that time.
go figure😳
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Old Mar 21st, 2023, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by danon
A couple of weeks ago, a friend decided to join me in Madrid . She booked the same hotel with booking .com ., it was a better rate than direct at that time.
go figure😳
I pull the trigger most often at Booking.com for a bunch of reasons, beyond the fact their the detail in their listings and the usefulness of their reviews is utterly remarkable: their Genius status rates and benefits often allow more flexible booking options at better prices than elsewhere; the highly explicit detailing of all charges/cancel options is exact and dependable; multiple times they have been a GREAT help when the hotel itself has failed to honor a reservation or screwing up in minor or major ways (I know my money will be duly refunded and/or I will have a place to stay thanks to Booking). In short, their customer service is like no other service sector industry I have EVER encountered in terms of reliability, timeliness, and customer-advocacy. Booking.com is the best thing to happen for informed and reliable travel since the Boeing 707.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2023, 04:00 AM
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I asked for rates for a hotel in Italy for October and got 165 Euros per room. On Booking.com, the rates were listed as 200 Euros.

I suggest doing a bit of research for the best deals if this is a priority for you. I admit the Genius option, however, has allowed me to book hotels at extraordinarily low prices; even here in Switzerland.
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Old Mar 22nd, 2023, 01:45 PM
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Originally Posted by kleeblatt
I asked for rates for a hotel in Italy for October and got 165 Euros per room. On Booking.com, the rates were listed as 200 Euros.
A couple things: I have noticed that sometimes when you search the map in Booking.com and see the price hovering over the property, that the initial quote shows the fully refundable rate, but if you pull up the complete listing you might then see that there is a non-refundable rate significantly lower.

Also, it's very much worth noting that rates change. I like to book as soon as I know I'm going on a trip, but somewhere between three weeks to 10 days before going (and before any prepayment kicks in) if you do the same search you did originally, you might see several properties more desirable than what you already booked for way less than they were going for before. Around 10 days seems to be a 'sweet spot' for hotels that are willing to engage in marked discounting of rates to fill up the property as much as possible - - and I have heard of people who then cancel what they originally booked and then switch over to the much better deal, believe it or not. =:0) The opposite can be true if there is high demand for particular dates (everything starts to sell out and prices go sky high) but it's still possible for a group cancellation to free up rooms that are then suddenly reasonable at the odd property.

Hotels engage in "dynamic" pricing to some extent, so it should never be a surprise if someone is paying a different amount than you are, no matter where they booked.
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