12 Dec Booking.com: Your worst best friend?

In a time not so far away…

In recent years, mostly in Europe tour operators would book entire hotels to fill up with guests that would travel on the tour operator’s planes. Hoteliers loved this model, because while price was low, occupation was guaranteed and often paid upfront.

However, as service degraded or competition increased, Tour Operators would book other hotels. Hoteliers that relied solely on a few Tour Operators would struggle establish new channels, or fail and go out of business. But what does all of this have to do with Booking.com?

Booking.com’s success for independent hotels

Booking.com has taken Europe by storm, and is now making inroads into the US. Studies show that over 50% of all hotel nights booked in Europe are booked through booking.com.

This level of market consolidation has been a bonanza for independent hotels. Without any brand recognition, booking.com has become the ideal digital marketplace to promote and sell their rooms to guests from all over the World.

Booking.com’s has been able to create a formidable marketplace with a large amount of inventory (many consumers consider that “all hotels are on booking.com, at least all that matter”), it does not take payments upfront, and booking.com’s increased focus on user reviews provides a one-stop-shop for consumers.

Booking.com now claims to be the number one online hotel reservation service in the World. From our experience with hoteliers, booking.com certainly has significant distribution power, and there is no doubt that it represents an increasingly significant portion of the income of numerous hotels throughout the World.

Booking.com’s obsession with price

Booking.com is obsessed with providing the best possible prices to consumers. J.D. Power and associates reported that Booking.com has the highest customer satisfaction rate of independent travel websites, mainly due to competitiveness of pricing.

This obsession with price causes the relationship that hoteliers have with booking.com to frequently be one of love-hate. They love the reservations that Booking.com brings in, but they hate it when they have to sell for low prices, preventing them from differentiating their hotel on any other factor.

To add insult to injury,  Booking.com’s flat commission model has been replaced by one of bidding for position on the first page of a destination. It is not infrequent that hotels pay over 20% in commission to be on the first page of the recommended properties in their city.

These issues and Booking.com’s market power, make its relationship with hotels uneven. Hotels might be receiving significant revenue from the reservations that are made through the site, but if they depend on Booking.com for their reservations, they have little bargaining power.

The playing field is tilted

Booking.com recently started taking one-sided decisions on how their system operates and forcing hotels to adapt. For example, booking.com recently reserved the right to automatically resell a room that one of its customers has canceled, apparently to protect their  commission. Booking.com also changed their information policy and now blocks access to the customer’s information, e.g. by eliminating customers’ e-mail addresses apparently to prevent direct contact between hotels and customers.

Even appreciating all the revenue they get from Booking.com, most hotels’ situation may be so precarious that if Booking.com were to raise its commission margins there is little that they can do about it.

In a recent debate at Phocuswright Conference, hoteliers divided channels between good channels (the ones that extend reach or create new markets) and bad channels (the ones that cannibalize their natural markets, e.g. by bidding on their keywords, e.g. Hotel XYZ).

With booking.com taking all these steps, how can hoteliers really trust that booking.com has their best interest in mind and is not their worst best friend?

Balance your Booking.com presence through hotel digital marketing

Hotels need understand how to use Booking.com for their benefit, but not be overly dependent on it. They need to understand how to keep the reservation service at arm’s length by having a sound hotel digital marketing strategy.

It’s important to have a multi-channel digital marketing strategy that gives hotels digital presence. Achieving such online presence would include, among other factors:

  1. Great looking website– Many studies show that a large majority of consumers would prefer to book directly with the property given the same terms and conditions. To instill consumers with the trust to book, it’s important to have a stunning website that conveys to potential clients a positive feel for the hotel,;
  2. Multi-channel reservations – it is vital to diversify channels, and ensure that your hotel is present in at least 5-10 mass channels, including Expedia/Hotels.com, lastminute.com, hotels.de and the ones that may be most relevant to your segment (e.g. if you have a boutique hotel, you should try to get listed on splendia.com, tablethotels.com, mrandmrssmith.com);
  3. Optimize for mobile devices – Mobile is the fastest growing channel in hotel bookings, especially last-minute reservations. With the increase of reservations by mobile devices, your hotel needs to have a website and booking engine optimized for mobile devices;
  4. Collecting guest information – Collecting your guests’ data so as to target the right profiles with your promotions and reward the best guests with campaigns that encourage loyalty;
  5. Presence on social platforms – a beautiful page on the major social networks can go a long way to increase an hotel’s brand exposure;

Conclusion

No hotelier wishes to have their hotel completely booked this year if they are to find themselves empty and helpless next year, because their reservations only came from one channel and they didn’t have any other channels established.

Hotels need to have a multi-channel digital marketing strategy, so as to avoid any kind of dependence on any one service for their online revenue. They need to have a digital presence that safeguards them from other companies having power over them. One that guarantees that they are sought out by potential clients no matter on what search engine these are conducting the search.

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199 Comments
  • Markus Busch
    Posted at 06:05h, 14 December Reply

    “Over 50% of all hotel nights booked in Europe are booked through booking.com” – you better check your facts. “50% of OTA bookings” gets closer.

    • Lucinda Von Spielburg
      Posted at 13:31h, 07 September Reply

      I will ALWAYS book with Booking.com. Hoteliers Must remember they are Beggars and the GUEST chooses among the many beggars in the street which one to give her money to. The sooner you get that into your THICK skulls the better. DOn’t be slumlords. Guests come FIRST YOU are The Product Booking.com is PEDDLING to THE GUEST. SO take your seat in the back of the room and wait for me to decide if you are up to snuff.
      Princess Guest

      • Lucinda Von Spielburg
        Posted at 13:51h, 07 September Reply

        Guest Centric WHAT a lie. DO you think ANYONE buys that? How pathetic.

    • Pau Ferret
      Posted at 10:21h, 16 January Reply

      You’re right. Yesterday I assisted a leading Hotel event in Madrid (HOTUSA EXPLORA) and a commercial director of a big hotel spanish chains said direct bookings in his company were 50%, of which two thirds is OTAs. Another gave the data of 48% direct bookings. Two other directors refused to answer.

  • Dorian
    Posted at 10:03h, 14 December Reply

    We must remember, Booking.com’s prices don’t only come from squeezing the hotels. They also stifle their competitors through rate parity and the insistance that none of their partner properties will allow lower prices on the market. They’re now under official investigation in the U.K., U.S. and Switzerland for this practice.

    • Teo
      Posted at 23:51h, 03 June Reply

      There have been some interesting changes regarding the rate parity.
      There are a few huge European countries which are not obligated to follow the rate parity anymore of B.com and other OTA, enormous benefit for the direct bookings.

      Regards,

    • Lucinda Von Spielburg
      Posted at 13:29h, 07 September Reply

      Yes, It’s awesome I love them.
      Guest

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  • TRG
    Posted at 17:01h, 14 December Reply

    Not only parity, but they do have preferential positioning agreements for those hotels that are in direct connect. For example , IHG is also mentioned in the law suit that @dorian mentioned.

    No doubt they are good, the are also the umbrella above many other OTA’s

  • Chiel Nobels
    Posted at 17:23h, 14 December Reply

    Good article. Some hotels are really blinded by booking.com’s revenues that they do not see the consequences as pointed out in this article.

    What also happens: hotels are raising their rates to meet large OTA’s demands for commissions making them less attractive for customers rate-wise. Some OTA’s are even suggesting hotels to raise their rates as an outside revenue manager, for their profits and not the hotels’….

  • mezzo
    Posted at 20:45h, 14 December Reply

    Very useful, thanks!

  • J Rodolfo Canales
    Posted at 03:44h, 18 December Reply

    It is very important to have your facts straight before publishing something like this
    All OTAS are looking to offer the best prices to their travelers not just B.com.
    On each reservation B.com send to their hotel partners the commission is one of the lowest on the market and even if the hotels increase the commission by choice is for the most below other OTAS standard commission
    The ranking on site depends on the hotel ability to participate and compromise with B.com on 7 facts very well know from the hoteliers and not on the commission entirely.
    Guestcentric does not seems to be very guest focus if wants to start business trying to damage the relationship within the hotel and the top producer or one of the top producers for any hotel

    Facts:
    B.com largest online hotel distributor
    Post payment model (guest pay at the hotel)
    One of the lowest commission % in the market
    Demand driven
    Share all the guest information with the hotel
    Longer booking window and travel window within the competitors.

    All this are basic reasons to have Booking.com as one of the most important hotel partners to a successful revenue and yearly production

    • pedro.c
      Posted at 15:39h, 18 December Reply

      Hi Rodolfo,

      I do think we have our facts straight, and you probably have misinterpreted the article, because you characterize GuestCentric as “trying to damage the relationship within the hotel and the top producer or one of the top producers for any hotel”. That is certainly not a recommendation from GuestCentric.

      To recap: the article reflects on booking.com being the independent hotel’s best friend because it created a great marketplace (as the title gives away). However, the article offers a balanced view and looks at booking.com’s dominant position and considers the risk of cost for hotels going up in the future (as it is already in many cities in Europe) and the hotels’ being held captive if they don’t have a balanced distribution strategy.

      I think your one-sided view about booking.com is a bit dangerous. As with any distribution channel, it has positive and negative aspects.

    • Teo
      Posted at 00:02h, 04 June Reply

      Hi Rodolfo,

      Nowadays B.com sends a coded email address of the guest to the hotel, not the real email address anymore.

      At least the phone number is still the real one… for now.

      Regards,

  • Alexandra Ainsworth
    Posted at 09:35h, 19 December Reply

    Hello !
    without any doubt, 20% commission is for hotels to much.

    • Teo
      Posted at 00:07h, 04 June Reply

      Hi Alexandra,

      That’s why they can choose to pay 15% commission only, which is fine.

      Regards,

  • Ben Jacobson
    Posted at 09:44h, 19 December Reply

    I see lots of debate here in the comments on the validity of the booking.com market share stats cited in the article. I’m in no way questioning what was written, but I _am_ curious as to where these figures came from, as they are surely noteworthy! Any chance you guys can link out to exactly _which_ “Studies show that over 50% of all hotel nights booked in Europe are booked through booking.com”?

  • adrian jones
    Posted at 20:52h, 19 December Reply

    booking.com{owned by priceline} out of singapore(to dodge tax) are as corrupt as most of online booking companies,when you look up a hotel you might book, booking.com will say this hotel or motel was booked 5 minutes ago,there is 1 room left. This is all marketing lies,they all tell lies and as for reviews,most reviews are made by persons evicted from the hotel or persons that wanted to party and were told to shut up.If you are wanting to save money get the phone number of the hotel or motel phone up and tell the operater i saw your hotel on booking.com i will book if you can give me a better rate,all hotels will certainly give you a better deal as they won’t have to pay commission.Good luck in your next hotel stay,be careful.

    • Lodgix
      Posted at 18:52h, 25 January Reply

      Yes that’s what we’ve found too…all the marketing copy about booking times, amounts or booking discounts, are all made up on Booking.com. Why does anybody in Europe use this website, it’s awful.

    • Teo
      Posted at 00:24h, 04 June Reply

      Hi Adrian,

      I might agree with you about some points like “booked 5 min ago” or “last room available”,

      However regarding your opinion about the reviews you are absolutely wrong. I will not even bother to inform you why you are wrong.

      Also calling the hotel directly and saying ” give me a better price than B.com ” you might achieve it in small hotels that have no strategy or vision for the future. None of the hotels that understand what “reputation & prestige” means will not ever give you a better price if you say something like that, you are a bad guest for them as you are cheap-price driven, you are more suitable for budget hotels.
      The best hotels were & will be the ones that provide value & experience worthing every cent that you pay for it.

      Regards,

    • Secret traveler
      Posted at 08:03h, 21 June Reply

      This makes so much sense I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself. I will definitely be calling the hotel direct after research on b.com next time I book. And I’m 99% certain I will find you where correct and I will get a better rate. I can’t think of any reason I wouldn’t other than possibly the person who picked up the phone was in a bad mood or power tripping. Thanks so much!

    • Lynn Quinn
      Posted at 06:14h, 14 July Reply

      Poor service from booking.com
      After paying to secure an apartment in Camden, London,  I communicated with booking.com and with the ‘host’ repeatedly to try and get the exact location (google maps couldn’t find it with the address provided) and where to collect keys. I never got a satisfactory response to numerous emails or phone messages before my departure. When I arrived in Camden I spent two hours searching the area where the apartment should have been. I knocked on doors, got waiters in a pub to re-google the address, etc. No one  had ever heard of the apartment block. One man had lived in the street for 10 years and had not heard about the London Lux Randolph apartments. Needless to say, at great expense and at 10pm I eventually checked into the closest Holiday Inn.  After numerous emails to booking.com I eventually received a written undertaking that I will be reimbursed but there has to date been no sign of the money and no response to three emails sent this week making enquiries. Needless to say, I will never use booking.com again. 

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  • Rade
    Posted at 13:17h, 25 March Reply

    B.com is has the highest comissions among OTA-s which actualy made reservations. You have to pay comission on bruto amount – so every city, country , town … tax , VAT and all other costs are included and you actualy pay all of them and pay comission to B.com. Expedia for instance takes comission on netto price, they return VAT and other costs so at the end they are quite cheaper than B.com.
    Second , cancellation rate with them is over 25% and they forced hotels to have minimal cancellation policy – 48 hours prior arrival or less, you have to put more than 30% of capacity ( rooms ) to alotman – you can not book rooms yourself as they have to be available to B.com and there is no guaranty they will be booked, so very nice when you are left with empty room in highest season.
    Not to speak about lowest prices they want you to have…. All in all the worst best friend. Last few years guest do not even try to find accommodation other than over B.com and trend is going higher and higher.

    • Teo
      Posted at 00:47h, 04 June Reply

      Hi Rade

      Regarding the commission on the taxes, JAJS replied to you very nice.

      The things that you said about the cancellation rate being 25% might be correct, BUT this is how you understand that B.com is doing what it’s supposed to do, it has made the booking process so easy, that people nowadays are booking just for fun. ( There is a limit when a guest abuses the reservation & cancellation procedure )
      There is no such fact as you describe about forcing hotels for 48 hours cancellation policy, each hotel decides the policy that they want to follow – it was always like that.
      There is no such thing as 30% allotment of your rooms, these are false info. It is normal that you have to sell some rooms through B.com in order for them to make profit, otherwise all the hotels would just advertise their property on B.com because of the traffic but would never upload any availability, how does this sound to you?
      Last but not least, if you ever tried to call customer service of B.com and explain them that you are fully booked, they most probably would close the availability for you to avoid Overbookings, unless you ask to close availability for 3 months because you are in the high season and you do not need them at that moment.

      When the properties will set up long term strategies and vision, they will be able to distribute their iventory correctly, maximizing the revenue.

      Regards,

    • Lucinda Von Spielburg
      Posted at 13:33h, 07 September Reply

      DEAL WITH IT.
      Guest who is FED UP with Beggar Hotels not being up to snuff.

  • JAJS
    Posted at 01:46h, 05 April Reply

    Hi Rade,

    If you are a revenue manager please be aware that you can ask Booking.com to exclude all kind of taxes from your commissionable rates. By doing this, you will avoid paying commission on your taxes. This does not apply for VAT.
    Regarding allotments, you can ask a release if you think that they do not sell fast enough! Another way would be to negotiate the number of contracted rooms according to the season.

  • simonian
    Posted at 08:33h, 07 April Reply

    I have an apartment in Blanes and want to work with bookend.com so that they can take care of it how can I do that please someone tell me.

  • A.P.CONRADIE
    Posted at 14:27h, 12 April Reply

    WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE TO OPEN A WEBSITE WITH BOOKING.COM ?

  • Rade
    Posted at 13:26h, 13 April Reply

    Thanks I know, we are punished with paying VAT 15% more than with other OTA-s. They even not want to sent you invoice with VAT so we will be able to deduct VAT on comission payment – do not know why – they state they are europan company ????

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  • HRP
    Posted at 02:20h, 29 May Reply

    Within Booking.com and other ota’s, online guests have a good choice to have the selection of hotels ranked by distance rather than a preset particular order. This gives the hotels the opportunity to have that distance feature work for them, even if they are not a preferred partner. This preferred partnership states only that the hotels apply to a numerous of demanded features, besides rate parity compliance and a higher commission.

    Search engines also provide a good balance between the hotels websites and the adwords campaign by ota’s: the better a hotel website performs on google, on local results, the more the paid campaign of the ota shows more niching to the particular hotel rather than the general publication of all hotels in the general area.

    The fact remains that Booking.com cannot outsell a hotel which has high conversion on Booking.com. They probably will by means of rate parity issuing, and believe me they’ve tried. The only thing they just cannot control is how the guests make their hotel selection on their website and search engines. This is where the opportunities are for hotels.

    • Martin
      Posted at 18:15h, 08 April Reply

      Your last two sentences are spot on. Accommodation providers MUST understand the pathway taken by guests in making bookings, 90% of Booking.com originated guests found the accommodation on Booking.com, went to the accommodation providers own website and RETURNED TO BOOKING.COM to book, there! It should be obvious, therefore, to stop that last return leg in the guest journey. If successful this will reduce Booking.com to acting as a billboard/advertising platform rather than drain on the bottom line!

      • Lucinda Von Spielburg
        Posted at 13:36h, 07 September Reply

        I report all hotels that try to steal my information or give me any guff to friends and colleagues in the trave lindustry. We all use Booking.com because YOU are the PRODUCT being sold.. And you should be very GRATEFUL to have me choose your hotel among myriad of options. Hoteliers must remember THEIRS IS A DIME A DOZEN.

  • Charl
    Posted at 01:10h, 08 June Reply

    B.com or any other online is good for hotels in low seasons but in high season they don’t need but they have to leave rooms to be bookable throught B.com. The problem with B.com by the end it will kill the hotel own web site and if the remove the contact of the guest and the contact of the hotel this will kill the hotel personality.
    I can’t understand as a hoteller why clients are not clever any more they can contact the hotels direct and do the bookings and save the comission .
    I check a hotel in Istanboul found the price of 5 nights to be 920 US$ I done the booking last minute and used B.com but when I call to see the price of the hotel by phone I found 200US$ less.
    My hotel is the only hotel in town not listed with B.com or any other online and not intend to do so I will keep working on my own web site. DO YOU THINK THIS IS CORRECT?

    • pedro.c
      Posted at 16:35h, 08 June Reply

      I think you should consider carefully being listed. Booking.com is evolving to be a search engine for hotels, and you should be listed on it for visibility purposes. However, I also think that you should have offers on your website that incentivize consumers to book directly with your hotel. One simple thing to incent direct bookings for repeat customers is to provide them with a Promo code that gives them 10% off Best Available Rate if they book on your booking engine directly.

    • Teo
      Posted at 01:15h, 04 June Reply

      Hi Charl,

      I do agree with you that a direct reservation might be cheaper however some OTAs provide you with some sort of “security” as well.
      For example, if you are overbooked and you booked through B.com, they will arrange everything to find you an accommodation and you will not pay anything extra. If you booked through the hotel….well let’s say that it depends from the hotel that you chose whether you will sleep somewhere that night or not. Many more other similar “securities” on top of that.
      I am not sure how is it going for you without OTAs, the best small hotels that are performing incredibly well, do not work with OTAs because they do not need them. They have such a good reputation from word of mouth or the free listing of TripAdvisor that they are fully booked in this way.
      So if you add value & memorable experience to your guests, in combination with TripAdvisor and the free online tools that you can have, you might not need the OTAs at all.
      You might consider getting the Business Listing from Tripadvisor for the beginning till you built loyal guests & reputation.
      If you do so, make sure that you carry your mobile phone with you all the time & your website is very friendly for booking process, mobile usage and simple but creative. As you understood you will need a booking engine as well.

      Regards,

    • Lucinda Von Spielburg
      Posted at 13:42h, 07 September Reply

      No. WRONG! Poor Charl. Guests are mighty clever which is exactly why we CHOOSE booking.com because we know how sleezy many hoteliers can be and we want to protect our information. I would rather that you pay a fee to the Booking..com sit and know my information is protected form you. YOU must remember YOU are the PRODUCT the Guest is the VALUABLE commodity here. Thanks so much for asking, I hope this helps you understand you are the one who is Not clever. We guests are very clever. In fact I have loads of fun booking out possible travel itineraries way in advance and changing my plans whenever I want to without an insane charge for NOTHING. I just booked 30 hotel rooms and cancelled and booked another 30 beause my itinerary changed and it was so pleasurable to be treated locgically as the guest who CHANGED her MIND. Rather than to be subject to swindler’s policies. Guests are so intelligent and will always book with Booking.com. We have your number Hoteliers. So look out for us.
      In case you didn’t know it GUESTS come First. Deal WITH IT!
      Booking.com is NEVER going to be for you.

  • Naidu
    Posted at 09:23h, 21 June Reply

    I am planning to start a online hotel booking website like B.com, can anyone suggest what would be the best approach to begin with? (like commission %, web-designing cost, etc.,)

    • pedro.c
      Posted at 14:18h, 24 June Reply

      Prasad- we will be getting in touch.

  • Michael Dee
    Posted at 16:52h, 27 June Reply

    They are extremely bureaucratic; because you are in essence dealing with a computer it’s hard to get hold of a person when things go wrong: you get ‘the runaround’ and whatever it is had better not be urgent! I won’t use them again. They accidently booked me twice in the same hotel on the same night (in the same room!) and charged me twice over. I’ll use them in future to read reviews but that’s it

    • MP
      Posted at 23:40h, 11 August Reply

      Can I ask, what did you do to resolve this issue? My partner has had seemingly the same thing happen and we are not sure how to proceed given it was in a different country. Did you just cop it on the chin?

    • Lucinda Von Spielburg
      Posted at 13:44h, 07 September Reply

      Uh, NO THEY did Not. You are lying. Only YOU can Book a hotel NOT Booking.com.

  • JPRB
    Posted at 19:35h, 01 July Reply

    So if B.com charges commissions after the fact (guests pay at the hotel), how does the hotel charges a cancellation fee? Is there a CC verification happening at b.com and passing a method to the hotels to charge when it occurs?

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  • Maureen Hawkins
    Posted at 05:03h, 20 August Reply

    I will never use Bookings.com again. My room at the Travelodge Calgary Airport Hotel ended up costing $32 more than Bookings.com said it would. Furthermore, Bookings.com lies to their clients about hotels. I after I stayed there, Bookings.com asked me for a review & I provided one. They excerpted only 1 short phrase from my review that gave a totally false impression of the hotel. Yes, I did say the bed was OK. I also said that staying there was a total DISASTER. “Near the airport”? HA, only if you consider 25 minutes “near”! The hotel sends a shuttle to the airport only when called, so I had to wait 1/2 hour to get a shuttle & another 1/2 hour to get to the hotel after an exhausting transatlantic flight. I decided to check the TV for the next day’s weather, but the remote didn’t work, so I tried to call the Front Desk, but the phone button to call them didn’t work. When I used the washroom, the toilet paper holder came apart in my hands. I left a wake-up call, but they called the wrong room, so I would have missed my flight if I hadn’t woken, thrown on some clothes & rushed to the Front Desk to demand they hold the shuttle (it only goes once an hour; the next one would have been too late.) The hotel said they would have given me a partial rebate but they couldn’t because I booked through Bookings.com.

  • lavender81
    Posted at 13:41h, 20 August Reply

    I have booked two nights in a hotel via Booking.com. Everything was fine until I had to cancel my trip. I went to the website and followed the instructions in the booking confirmation email: to cancel the reservation all you needed to do is to click the red “Cancel” button next to the booking. So I did. I have not received any confirmation about the cancellation but since they said that was all you had to do I thought everything was sorted.
    However a day after the cancelled trip I got phone calls from the hotel that they have charged me for one night since I did not show up. I have contacted Booking.com and asked how this happened and they said there is no record of my cancellation and that I should have received a confirmation about the cancelled booking.
    After this we have exchanged couple of emails, they say the hotel would not pay back the money. I told them this is really a problem with their system – that it did not send me confirmation – so I asked them to compensate me whch they refused.
    I would advise those who are planning to book accommodation via Booking.com to urgently change their mind – this is not a reputable company and they will not treat you fairly.

  • Roo
    Posted at 23:40h, 21 August Reply

    As a hotelier, I find booking.com more like booking.con. We have simply increased our prices on booking.com as we find the commission of 15 percent extortionate. Staff costs, utility bills, rates, food , drinks have all gone up in price, yet booking.com want hoteliers to give the best price guarantee. I am also with laterooms.com. i sometimes was a a few pounds cheaper on laterooms than booking.com. immediately within 24 hours i would get a call fom booking.com telling me off like a schoolchild that there was a parity issue with laterooms.com amd that we needed to reduce the price to the same as late rooms as we breaching terms and conditions of the contract.
    If costs keep going up, and booking .com do not treat their hotel partners with respect. There will surely be another company out there who will be more compettive and understanding than booking.com and throw booking.com down the cliff, making spac for the new kid on the block. Thanks for reading!

    • Gerard
      Posted at 16:30h, 06 October Reply

      I agree with you! We are a couple and doing everything by ourselves. Yes, we get guests from booking.com, yes we pay…. But they don’t see you as a partner! All benefits go to them.
      There should be a new online booking system, maybe run by and organised by hoteliers/b&B owners etc….
      I hope that another company will pop up with more eyes towards us…

      And… no thanks for reading yours!

    • Lucinda Von Spielburg
      Posted at 13:47h, 07 September Reply

      YOU deserve everything you get. You seem to be unaware that hotels are beggars on the street a dime a dozen and the Guest is aristocracy choosing among myriad beggars which to give her coin.

  • Anonymous Hotelier in San Diego and New York City
    Posted at 02:25h, 28 August Reply

    Dear whoever takes the time to read this…

    Booking.com has the worst business and ethical practices I have ever seen. I have been a hotel operator for the past 11 years and have done business with all the major OTA’s in the U.S. Booking.com opened up my Manhattan and San Diego property without hesitation, then closed our listing because they “found out” I worked for a hotel provider who had wronged Booking.com and their customers. I can’t condone the actions of my former employer but I do know for a fact that me and my fiance (also my business partner) had no involvement in any of their doings, yet we were treated like second rate hoteliers and were even copied on emails by our Account Managers where they fallaciously called us “a fraud company”. This was even after we supplied Articles of Organization which clearly showed who was in control of our new company. We have no investors, outside help nor do we take orders from any stockholders. Our company is ours and ours alone, yet they “labeled” us guilty with no merit or proper explanation. The New York City account manager had the audacity to ask my fiance, who’s the legal owner of the company, and I quote, “How did you get your start up money?” Is the account manager insane? Who asks a question to an owner of a company? Who cares where our start up money came from, quite frankly, it’s none of anyone’s business. I was shocked that we were asked this. I’m sure they would not have the gumption to ask the CEO of Hilton or Holiday Inn where they got their start up money from. This is just one of the many ways in which we as professional hotel operators were singled out and made to feel inferior.

    Not to mention Booking.com customers are notorious for filing charge backs with their credit card companies because they know Booking.com will protect them. Booking.com cares nothing about their partnerships with hotels, only about protecting their image and reputation. Their lower-level account managers and “supervisors” are nothing more than reservation robots who are crossed-trained in the art of stalling and showing off their lack of tact and professionalism. Their legal team is no better. My company hired a lawyer so we can fight to prove our “innocence” that we had no affiliation with my former employer and despite showing evidence that my company is independent, it still fell on deaf ears. I escalated this to my legal team and it took nearly 1 month for Booking.com’s legal department to even acknowledge our lawyer’s emails! Unprofessional to say the least…

    A word to the wise…if you are a new company looking to get ahead in the hotel industry, stay FAR away from Booking.scam and their fly-by-night clientele and bottom-feeding employees. You will be better off in the long run my friends, take my advice!

    I’m so glad I live in America where my 1st Amendment Rights are in tact, even if Booking.com’s moral and ethical compass are not.

    If anyone has any questions or has a similar story to share, I would love to hear about other’s horror stories.

    Til you see us on TV…

    • Lucinda Von Spielburg
      Posted at 13:48h, 07 September Reply

      NO. Booking.com Is Ethical YOU are unethical. YOU do NOT deserve personal information when it is YOU that is the PRODUCT -your hotel. You are beggars in the street and The guest chooses among the throngs whom to give her coin. Stop the con everyone can see right through you.

  • paula
    Posted at 08:00h, 31 August Reply

    Naidu,
    please think twice.. give one finger to the devil, it will take your whole hand. And so much more inconvenience with them. You give them rooms to sell -ok.. if you close the rooms for them, they advertise you “fully booked”

  • Dorian Harris
    Posted at 09:08h, 12 September Reply

    Guys, I thought you might like this interpretation of the cost of rate parity: http://www.Fairersearch.org/

  • morne du toit
    Posted at 15:08h, 17 September Reply

    Booked a room, no problem.
    Cancelled room inside of agreed period. Got charged full price of my stay.
    Booking.com will not deal with me as they say the hotel has charged me and they “just handle booking”.
    Hotel wont deal with my booking as they say Booking.com handles the booking.

    Neither will take ownership and they have all my money and the room that they rent out again.
    What a joke! Daylight robbery. DO NOT USE BOOKING.com!! Contact hotel directly.

  • Cornelis
    Posted at 12:10h, 06 October Reply

    I’ve booking.com come a lot. There’s a nice new alternative: http://www.booking-request.com which I heard about today.

  • steves
    Posted at 14:32h, 09 October Reply

    My experience with Booking.com was not good..worst experience

  • Joel Cohen
    Posted at 19:43h, 12 October Reply

    On October 10, day of an air controllers’ strike in Paris, my flight to Saragossa was cancelled, just four hours before departure. I immediately contacted booking.com to cancel my reservation with the Saragossa hotel.
    The hotel management refused to cancel my room reservation, and this morning I received an email notice that my credit card was being charged 70 euros.
    Booking.com will take no responsibility, and has left me holding the liability. Needless to say, I am very unhappy, and think poorly (understatement) of both the hotel and the booking service.

  • dan
    Posted at 16:46h, 05 November Reply

    FYI Booking.com’s prices ARE NOT CHEAPER than booking direct with the hotelier. They squeeze the hotel’s margins for their benefit (commission). The customer gets no benefit other than being able to compare hotels & prices on one site.

    Book direct not through these middlemen, that are in fact driving up prices.

  • Gigi
    Posted at 00:09h, 17 November Reply

    It baffles me after several years in a small independent hotel (London), how bookings have reached 50% via OTAs? Yes, the world is better connected, we can book through our mobiles now, etc. Is it just pure laziness to simply call/email direct?! Not only for the better rates but also for availability. Many smaller hotels are now waking up to their own online booking systems/PMS, on their official websites, seen as this “instant booking” is so popular.

    I believe Booking.com is the face of corporate greed and malpractice in the hotel industry. Due to this rising booking culture via OTAs like them, the bigger picture for the hotel industry worldwide is that room rates are already higher than they should be (to cover commissions). The traveller loses in the long run. The traditional travel agent has always been around, but they have made way for these extortionate giant agencies. I cannot believe how some hotels in our area have been completely taken over by them.

    One example of “squeezing the hotelier”, as mentioned already, is this: B.com pay search engine listings to have their “hotel partner’s” own name come up on top, to direct even regular guests of the hotel to book via them. Try this for yourselves. Guests who do not know any better (and who can blame them, we are not all net/tech savy), believe they are booking on the hotel’s website. Is this fair? People need to somehow be made aware of this, and the rest of the misconceptions.

    Great article btw. More balanced than my rant!

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    Posted at 05:05h, 17 November Reply

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  • Zuzana
    Posted at 20:17h, 19 November Reply

    I agree on the fact that hoteliers should keep a balance and use multi-level distribution channels. B.com has its pros and cons as well. For those who once got dissappointed with B.com, will find an other ways to book a room. For those who got dissappointed with direct booking, may be B.com seems ideal. I personally thing that hotels should go direct and guarantee the best rate when travelers book direct.
    I am running a project for this purpose. I would like to promote hotels direct contact and give travelers an opportunity to find their hotel on hotelchoosing.com. The purpose is to connect visitors with hotels directly.
    I will definetly share your post to all hoteliers I am in contact with, because you are pointing out what is important. I totally agree with you and you did a good job.
    Beeing dependent on b.com is not enough anymore. If a hotel would like to present itself on the web, it has to be with a great and amazing website. I think the way to satisfy travelers, hotels need to do their best with what they have. Why is booking so succesfull? they have good photos, proper information and guest reviews. Can we say the same about the hotels website? many of them were created years ago, and noone cares. B.com brings them booking and they think its enough. How about to change this, and sell what you have, on your own? Show your best photos, best deals, best reviews on your own website and build up a good online reputation without paying a commission. What hoteliers could save on commission fees, they can rather invest on online marketing.
    I will end my thoughts with this: Hoteliers should take a responsibility for their online marketing, and shouldnt be depended just on booking. Even booking means a secure revenue from bookings.

  • Cherie Brownless
    Posted at 13:14h, 08 December Reply

    Booking.com are all about making it easy for the guest to book and they don’t care a jot about the hotel. We are a small 5 roomed B&B and have had nothing but problems with booking.com. We have contacted our property manager many times both by e-mail and phone and we have NEVER even had a reply. We have even had fake reviews that are STILL on our page. As for their ranking system? Well that remains a complete mystery – and as for the 7 R’s that is complete rubbish.
    In my mind they are crooks and I hope and pray that they will be taken off the web.
    All hoteliers should have the courage to come off en-mass so they don’t have any properties to sell!
    I’m game are you???

    • Angelle B.
      Posted at 02:40h, 23 March Reply

      I hear B.com guests are notorious for chargebacks. I have a guest who stayed with me for 4 weeks in my apartment here in NYC and is filing a chargeback since I caught her smoking and is doing this in retaliation. Booking.com is not helping me at all. I’m still pretty new with them but have had strictly horror stories since I’ve used them. I started out with Airbnb where you can vet the guests and the fact that they too will be reviewed encourages their good behavior. I’ve gotten more bookings with B.com in a short period of time but the cost and risk is really huge. I’m thinking of dropping them. Can anyone offer me any advice ??

      Angelle

      • Secret traveler
        Posted at 08:17h, 21 June Reply

        I’m not trying to defend b.com or their customers, but I can say this definitely isn’t true of all their customers. I have booked over 15 nights in the past year and have always been 100% respectful of the hotels.

        • Lucinda Von Spielburg
          Posted at 13:50h, 07 September Reply

          You are absolutely right and THE REASON I book with Booking.com is because eI don’t want a sleazy Hotel owner to have MY personal information. Why should they? They are he beggars a dime a dozen peddling I am the one who CHOOSES where to stay from among the throngs of hotelierswindlers and peddlers. Ciao.

    • David Paterson
      Posted at 12:25h, 20 June Reply

      I agree totally with Cherie. I also have a small 5 room B&B in Poland and had endless problems with Booking .com, who are arrogant and unaccountable. Throughout June and July we always achiever a review rating of 9 or more but when we reached 9.7, far above any other hotel in Poland, rival jealous hoteliers and their friends posted fake bad reviews. The technique was simple: they booked on ‘pay at the hotel basis on our minimum 2 night stay basis, arrived later than our last check-in time or not at all, asked for a change of room and when the got it complained to B.C. that they did not get the room they had booked! They stayed just one night but B.C. would charge commission for 2 nights as origionally booked. Emails to B.C. are never replied to and phone calls take 25 mins to be answered in the Polish office and 20 mins long distance to Amsterdam or London and often B.C. staff then tell us this line is for clients not hoteliers and then curtly hang up when we ask for their name and to be passed to a supervisor. We are never allowed to challenge the ‘fake’ reviews even from clients who never even showed up and for whom we are still charged commission.
      Hoteliers must form a website to publicise the appalling service offerred by B.C. and approach investigative journalists like ‘The Judge’ in in Sunday Post or similar in the Sunday Times. Who is up for this? Dave Paterson Polana Postolowo email dapat47@yahoo.com

  • Mary Kassandra Boulder
    Posted at 19:09h, 27 December Reply

    Hello,

    I have the following concern: I have a Bed & Breakfast in the booking.com site and two clients left a very bad review. The first one due to not having read the B&B information, thought he was staying at a hotel, did his check in and left a bad comment and the second one left a bad comment after her two children trashed their suite at the B&B, these two situation were reported to booking.com but they did not act upon either situation nor gave us any satisfactory answer while two other positive comments were removed which showed me that they do control the comments posted on the hotel page. What laws protect the hotel owner regarding this type of situation? as this is considered slander on the part of the client and booking.com did not do anything about it but actually defended the customer whom was wrong! Thank you. Mary

    • Angelle B.
      Posted at 02:44h, 23 March Reply

      I had the same situation with them. The guest was caught smoking and I reminded her to not smoke but she denied it ( in spite of the place now smelling like an ashtray ! ) She retaliates by doing a chargeback ($2,000 mind you !)) and Booking.com who booked this woman and should have known what she has done in the past at previous bookings says they were not there to verify what went on at the rental. Meanwhile they had no complaint about taking the commission. I think I may have to drop them and work with another company. Any advice ?

      ANgelle

      • Teo
        Posted at 22:29h, 03 June Reply

        Hi Angelle,

        Be aware that this kind of incidents have to be resolved between you and the guest.
        The OTAs will not get in between, simply because it does not concern them.
        Your policies have to be clear during the check in time in order to avoid such inconvenience.
        You have the right to charge the credit card of the guest when this happens and simply inform by email the guest & OTA for the reason of the “Extra” charge. If the guest disputes the charge then this is something that you have to chase following the law.
        You might also consider to have a policy for security deposit ( Fully refundable upon check out if the property is in perfect condition )
        Regarding the amount of $2,000 that the guest disputed, most probably is because he did not insert the credit card in the POS in order to pay for the stay. If the guests inserts the CC in the POS and puts his pin code, there is no possibility to dispute the amount afterwards.

        I hope these points help you a bit to realize that you do not really need the help of the OTA if you know how to protect your property.

        Regards,

    • Teo
      Posted at 22:48h, 03 June Reply

      Hi Mary,

      The guest shares his experience from his stay through his review.
      Whether his opinion is positive or negative, you, as a professional hotelier, have to respect it.
      You will find yourself to disagree with many reviews from time to time, however reply to them and take the chance to convert a bad review into an opportunity to clarify the situation, to justify the actions you did for them to improve their experience and the actions you will do in the future to improve yourself as a genuine host open to bad feedback.
      Regarding the good reviews that you mentioned, there must be a good reason to be removed which you will never find out due to different methods for detecting fraud.
      The OTAs have obviously the possibility to remove reviews, however they are fair with guests & partners and they would not even consider to remove the reviews that you are mentioning,

      Regards,

  • Ayesh
    Posted at 13:14h, 26 January Reply

    I read the article but not all the comments. I made a reservation thru b.com, and another reservation (another hotel) via agoda.com.
    I first through agoda.com is giving so much to customers ripping hotel owners but it turns out booking.com is giving the best to customers AND friendly with hotels.

    First, I must say that booking.com has a much better sorting and searching system (being a senior web developer myself, I know how costly that is). I could find the best hotel for my requirements in few minutes and I was like, “wait… I don’t have to pay now!”.

    Booking.com’spay later model is great for the customers but I think worse for hotel owners. The reservation is guaranteed but they don’t get any upfront. However, I made the reservation a day before, so there was no problem for the hotel IMO.

    I am going to stay 6 total days in the hotel and now that the staff is friendly, I realised booking.com has the exact same rate as booking.com (correct to the last Baht). Booking.com takes some commission but the getting exposed to people in anywhere in the world is worth that commission.

    Other online hotel booking sites tend to rip of the customer, and the sad truth is that, when you can talk in native language and make some human communication, you can get same price or an even lower price.

    • Teo
      Posted at 23:04h, 03 June Reply

      Dear Ayesh,

      Allow me to clarify something to you as a traveler.
      Booking.com and Agoda.com are sister websites, under the umbrella of Priceline.
      – There is no possibility that these 2 websites had different rates for same hotel, same dates, same room etc. It could happen rarely under specific sircumstances. Pretty much they have the same mentality ( I will agree that B.com is easier to navigate )
      – The prices advertised in these Online Travel Agencies are made by the hotels themself, so there is no “rip off” of the hotel.
      – The policies of free cancellation are also managed by the hotels,
      – The payment for your stay is also managed by the hotel in the example of B.com ( there are some properties where B.com is arranging the payment on behalf of the hotel )

      Regards,

  • Michael
    Posted at 18:32h, 27 January Reply

    read the article as well. I think it explains very well that b.com handles multi channel marketing at its best in comparison to their competitive set. Though, I doubt that b.com has a MS of above 50% in Europe already. Would be interested to read more about the the actual market share figure and where it comes from…is their any other sort of information that beside from tnooz.com that deals with those figures? I agree to many of you guys saying that b.com does a great job in the OTA marketplace. Especially the user friendliness – thumbs up….

    exited to hear your statements…..

    • Teo
      Posted at 23:10h, 03 June Reply

      Hi Michael

      You can have a look in Phocuswright that presents these kind of researches frequently and is pretty accurate.

      http://www.phocuswright.com

      Regards,

  • John Brew
    Posted at 21:29h, 01 February Reply

    I have read several comments above arguing about calling the hotels directly to have guaranteed lower prices. Unfortunately, this strategy works rarely (especially at international chain properties). I have tried it in Rome (at Sheraton and Waldorf) and in Dresden (at the Quality Plaza) and they could not beat the booking.com price.

    That is not to say that I advise using booking.com. In fact, there are many OTAs which provide lower prices. Not to speak also about wholesalers which are unbeatable (it’s true that for non-refundable rates).

    From a guest perspective, I would always advise to search several websites before booking (onhotels.com, otel.com, olotels.com, hotelopia.com), but also look at the big players, using their promo codes (hotels.com, orbitz.com, travelocity.com, priceline.com), then try the opaque websites (hotwire, priceline, lastminute’s top secret hotels) and, finally, trying to call your preferred hotel in that location directly (knowing already which is the best price you can get online).

  • Anne
    Posted at 17:23h, 15 February Reply

    Hi,

    I am currently writing my bachelor thesis about online booking sites like bookings.com, and I think your blog post here are really interesting. I Would like to know what your sources of information is? Where did you get these facts?
    It would help me a lot, in my research and finding litterature on the subject, if you could share? 🙂

    Thanks!

    • Teo
      Posted at 23:20h, 03 June Reply

      Hi Anne,

      I hope you find out the info about the OTAs

      Here are some info that might help you with your thesis

      http://www.phocuswright.com

      Regards,

  • obsidian8
    Posted at 19:49h, 06 March Reply

    the problem with booking.com is that THEY DO NOT ENSURE that the details they display about the hotels are TRUE. Hotels simply submit censored photos & description which booking.com do not validate in any way (as I assume this will hit the revue they receive from the volume of bookings through their website). I used tem for Utrect, Holland and ended up in nothing more than a potential death trap should an emergency occurred.

    • Teo
      Posted at 23:30h, 03 June Reply

      Hi obsidian8,

      In all the websites there might be some sort of fraud attempts and you can not really prevent it 100%

      This is why the review sites are there for the you, see photos from the guests directly and read a few reviews.

      Check it out :

      https://www.tripadvisor.com

      Regards,

  • Darmien
    Posted at 06:01h, 13 March Reply

    The Costs are not as Splendid as Marketed. Before booking it all looks like affordable, but as you proceed to transaction directly it goes upward. The pricing wouldn’t remain the similar as taxes and other charges are added, that might be the equal or more than the price of booking on site; and that’s a key worry.

  • Stephen
    Posted at 00:45h, 15 March Reply

    I am a hotel owner just leaving booking.com who are trying to sue me through NY now Cyprus for reasons I don’t know. Bully? Much more than that and am willing to give you more information.

    Best Regards

    Stephen Skinner

    Owner of 2 hotels in Morroco

  • MR ME
    Posted at 09:01h, 22 March Reply

    I have been working at the same hotel for four years now. We always have people coming in claiming they have a reservation with our hotel when they don’t. I have to explain it to them like this; They have a reservation with bookings.com , NOT with our hotel, we do not have any affiliation with bookings.com, and what that website is doing is technically fraud, and that if they wanted a room with our hotel, they should have contacted us, not some Jo Blow company based out of lord knows where. Online companies such as Booking.com or Expedia.ca are they biggest annoyance I have to deal with in my day, because they do not perform their duty, they don’t book ANYTHING they just tell the customer they have a reservation and then take it on faith that these hotels actually have a spare room available. Its horrible, having to watch people leave with no room to stay in because we’re fully occupied, and had no reservation for these random people.

  • Boquete Panama Hotel
    Posted at 00:47h, 13 April Reply

    Great article. For all of the negative comments about Booking.com, I am a new boutique hotel owner who was able to achieve an 87% occupancy rate for the first 4 months of operation almost exclusively through Booking.com. While I understand the need to build our own web presence (working on it), this takes time and the truth is I am more than happy to write a commission check to Booking.com at the end of every month. Perhaps I will feel differently a few years into the relationship.

  • Rachel
    Posted at 14:05h, 14 April Reply

    For any hoteliers, Squishotel is launching in Jan 2015 and we charge 0% commission. What’s the catch? Well there isn’t one, we want hotels to pass on the discount to the booker rather than the OTA, by using Squishotel, you add value to the guests stay and in return, have a better chance of them coming back to the hotel directly. Email sales@squishotel.com for more information.

  • Joe Blogggs
    Posted at 07:24h, 22 April Reply

    I run my own Motel. Booking.com have increased our occupancy from 60% to 90% based on our excellent review scores which run into the 100’s. Boking.com has given the power back to the hands of the consumer and the hotels and motels are not happy because they have to pay the price for this. I can’t wait to retire and start using Booking.com – i will never have to stay in a bad hotel/motel again (by making sure I don’t book a motel with a low review score). I do however see Booking.com taking over the marketplace, forcing up the standard rate of commission which will in turn force up the price of motel/hotel stays. They have however on their part got there business modele exactly right. I also predict that Booking.com will takeover trip advisor.
    In my town, i know that about 25% of the reviews are fake. With Booking.com maybe lucky if 1% are fake as it is too costly for hotels/motels to be writing a fake review for their property. For this reason i never touch trip advisor….and i work in the industry!! you should probably do the same to anyone who actually reads this far down!

  • escort bayan
    Posted at 10:34h, 22 April Reply

    We generally have individuals coming in guaranteeing they have a reservation with our lodging when they don’t. I need to illustrate it to them like this; They have a reservation with bookings.com , NOT with our inn, we don’t have any connection with bookings.com, and what that site is doing is actually duplicity, and that in the event that they needed a room with our inn, they ought to have reached us, not some Jo Blow organization based out of ruler knows where. Online organizations, for example, Booking.com or Expedia.ca are they greatest irritation I need to manage in my day, in light of the fact that they don’t perform their obligation, they don’t book ANYTHING they simply tell the client they have a reservation and afterward undertake confidence that these lodgings really have an extra room accessible. Its frightful, needing to watch individuals leave with no room to stay in light of the fact that we’re completely involved, and had no booking for these irregular individuals.

    • Angelle B.
      Posted at 02:48h, 23 March Reply

      What’s an “irregular individual” ?

  • FOM
    Posted at 13:51h, 25 April Reply

    When I joined the hotel as FOM in-charge of revenue, I was shocked by the huge portion of B.com in the average occupancy for a month, 64%, 15 days later I had one of my agents forgot to cxl a fraud booking of 30 days in the extra-net, guess what! I had to pay B.com the commission of nearly 1K USD, on overbooking situation, u will never be able to reach some1 to help you out especially when your hotel is set in Auto replenish, means the moment you cxl a booking it gets replaced by another on the spot, 2 months later I got pissed from this guys, and implemented my own way to fill up my receptionists pockets with cash rather than paying huge amounts from 20% commission to B.com, today I managed to drug down their percentage to 12% only …. I don’t mind to NULL it ..

  • Sunrise Reputation
    Posted at 13:05h, 30 April Reply

    Sunrise Reputation

    Booking.com: Your worst best friend?

  • Mike
    Posted at 23:32h, 01 May Reply

    I dont mind b.com, if you stay on top of it it can be a easy source of recenue. The one thing i hate is the reviews and how they cannot be disputed

    • Julie Taylor
      Posted at 00:04h, 25 December Reply

      Hi Mary
      I’m in total agreement with your posting. I’m in a similiar position to you running 2 private holiday let apartments. Like you have had 2 or 3 bad reviews by guests. 1 was due to guest not reading our policies & received a “late check-out fee”. Another was from guests smoking on our non-smoking property so they were charged additional “cleaning fees”. Another booked & paid for 1 guest (9 nights-work related booking) then brought in a 2nd person, then a 3rd person! Tried to ask for additional fees for 3rd person (1st guest never notified us) and the 3 women became aggressive and swore at me that I was “invading their privacy” etc???
      Initially we thought about legal action (for defamation due to unsubstantiated comments) but too complicated & we just don’t have the time). Booking.com seem to take the side of the guest which is another arrow in the back when you know you are an honest business and it damages your business reputation.
      Now we’ve learnt to answer the guest reviews with an honest account of events & explain what the guest did & why they were charged an extra fee. I feel for you as ‘some guests can be fickle’ but if the guest chooses not to read the information then the onus is on them!
      Best wishes Mary.

    • Julie T
      Posted at 00:09h, 25 December Reply

      Hi Mike,
      I totally agree with your comments. Reviews are extremely 1-sided and don’t tell the whole story.

  • Martyn
    Posted at 22:00h, 02 May Reply

    Booking.com have recently left the UK and are now based in Amsterdam. Their commission charges of 15% originally included UK VAT…now they don’t pay that and the effective cost to us as a small hotel has gone up.( we can’t reclaim the VAT we used to be able to do). Also Booking.com in the UK swamp the first page of the search engine with their own, paid for site plus numerous satellite sites, all purporting to be our hotel -we actually appear 5 or 6 down from the top. The unenlightened will not have noticed that the page they are going to is not actually our URL. On top of that several of these sites are using info from the previous owner -4 years ago!! If only I could afford to dump them……

  • Steve
    Posted at 13:41h, 16 May Reply

    Booking.com does give a lot of reservations to a hotel or someone in the accommodation business, but they are terrible. There customer service is god-awful and they are extremely rude on the phone to hoteliers. They only care about their reputation from the customers side and never look into to the best interest of the business. We have had many issues with them and anytime we do you can bet that you will receive a plethora of calls from their service department in some voice commanding that you obey them or else. As this article suggests and many other comments above, if we didn’t receive a decent amount of bookings from them, we’d drop them in an instant.

  • thetravelbug
    Posted at 08:51h, 20 May Reply

    Also just leaving Booking.com. I was using it for just a small apartment and had nothing but trouble. Awful system, very poor description that says nothing about the apartment except bland details. Constantly had to request policy changes and these never got done. Parts of back office never worked. Then one of my first bookings was what appeared to be a scam booking – for one night from someone coming half way round the world. I contacted Booking.com to ask them to check into it – nothing. I got nothing from the client and again asked them to cancel it. I travel a lot and cannot always be online to login and cancel a booking that was a complete scam anyway so they are now trying to charge me commission on that. Then there was a situation where I received two bookings within minutes of each other, one from Booking.com and one from another site. The one from Booking.com was for only a short stay compared to a much more lucrative booking from elsewhere. I contacted Booking.com and was told I had to honour the booking or book the client into a similar place, which I could not do. Therefore I opted to honour the Booking.com reservation. The client later cancelled but Booking.com insist this was an overbooking and want commission for it.

    They have constantly told me how I can accept money from my guests, what I can and cannot do with my own apartment.

    The customer service is non-existant. The people you deal with are useless and often do not respond, except to copy and paste the terms and conditions or other notes.

    I have now cancelled my listing with them and am still trying to sort out the commissions issue.

    If you can get bookings another way I would avoid Booking.com at all costs.

    • Mercia Abrahams
      Posted at 07:28h, 17 March Reply

      Similar experience as ‘thetravelbug’. Absolutely ridiculous company to partner with where you experience nothing but frustration trying to work with them. Their CS is there to only look after guests, they are not in the least bit interested in supporting their partners. The only thing that I’ll give them 5 stars for is invoicing their partners on time to rake up their heavy commissions. As a small business all you will get are scam bookings 9 times out of 10. Use Airbnb instead as they will treat you with respect and their commission is only 3%.

  • Peter
    Posted at 06:27h, 17 June Reply

    I am a long time and frequent user of booking.com. I have found no other site comparable to the advantages booking.com offer. I spend on average 6 months each year staying in hotels.

    There are no fees : no booking fee, no cancellation fee and no credit card fees. Thier website allows selection of what I am seeking. In my case : transparent pricing ( mostly ), free wifi, good location, good price, aircon, a review score above 7.5, no cash upfront and free cancellation up to 3 days before arrival. The booking conditions are clear. And no worries about credit card fraud should I book direct with a hotel. If I should find that the hotel is offering a cheaper price direct, I can claim a credit back from booking.com…something I have only done once over some 250 bookings.

    Their nearest competitor in the regions I travel ( Asia/Pacific ), Agoda, never have transparent pricing, charges fees for cancellations and as you pay before arrival, credit card fees when you would rather pay cash.

    My only complaint is with thier site design. Frequent pop-ups are annoying and of no value.

    If hotels are paying extra to be first on the list….fools….and underestimate the intelligence of their customers. You go to a website like booking.com to SEARCH. To hotels who complain, no one has forced you to use booking.com. Did they hold a knife to your back? In my experience, most hotels, except the big chains have terrible websites that are difficult to navigate and don’t have all the relevant information a user would normally require. So many don’t reply to emails within a reasonable time frame ( 1 day ).

    With booking.com, I have most of my booking all on one site and listed for easy review. I am in Japan now and have used Rakuten and Japanican when I found that occasionally they offered better pricing than booking.com.

    Just some ramblings from a humble hotel customer. Maybe someday someone in the hotel industry will build a better mousetrap!! Until that time, I am a happy booking.com user.

  • Polo
    Posted at 14:11h, 26 June Reply

    Hi Travelbug,

    I own a property and they were taking out money as they mistook my place for somewhere else.
    I had to do all the work at proving their errors and then they said that I need to deduct what they me from future bookings.

    I had someone book and blocked my place for a week and that person never got back to me, I lost a week of potential business as booking were toeing and froing with emails.

    Then the last booking was a huge error, about 80 % of the normal price.
    I have spent hours now.I found replacements but they were not good enough and now booking says they will deduct the commission from me.
    Their people call everyday and they don’t do anything.

    In fact I said I would try again if they give me a list of requirements that need to be fulfilled .

    Now they have changed the number of guests and even the dates.

    I told them that I was not a travel agent.

    If you have a villa or small property there are much better websites and a lot less complicated.

    I added their commission on top of my normal price, so they were not the cheapest site advertising my property.

  • Polo
    Posted at 14:38h, 04 July Reply

    Hi,
    Guess what?
    If you can’t honour a reservation from Booking and you find alternative accommodation on another website they still charge you the commission>

    Yes it’s in the contract and also if the alternative accommodation is more expensive you get to pay the difference.

    Way to go Booking.com or is it LIKETOFYOU.COM

  • Hotel Booking
    Posted at 14:56h, 18 July Reply

    Hotel Booking is not a problem with booking.com but you have to fixed your mind and stick on your target .If hotels are paying extra to be first on the list….fools….and underestimate the intelligence of their customers. You go to a website like booking.com to SEARCH.
    http://www.bestsoftinc.com/

  • Nathalie
    Posted at 15:36h, 18 July Reply

    Hello everyone,
    I am an hostel owner (6 rooms) in Belize. We started the process to be register by B.com but at the last minute we decided not too. The perspective of having more booking looks great, but wait a minute, 20% comission and they don t do anything. But the hotel owner who has to deal with the real work (cleaning, customers service, hiring more staff, so more expenses), just get more work with a lower profite. So at the end of the day the hotel owner and staff are the one having more work, and on top we give 20% to a corporation. It looks like modern corporate slavery to me. More work to be able to pay our dim to the corporation. I like the previous post talking about dependency, that all is about, once they have you in control cause they provide all your booking, they can do anything they want. So we told them we are not intressted anymore, and they have been calling us for a year to try to get us, I could feel the greed. I prefer to work less and have a quality life and enjoy other acivities like farming and playing music. If I would have be with booking, I couldn t refuse to work extra for lower money. I prefer to make less money and have more time, be less stressed so I can take care of my guets, enjoy time in they company insted of being squizzed by a corporation. Freedom is very importante to me and I don t want to have a big corporation as a boss, treating me like a slave. All the post I have red here and what I heard about other hotel owners in Belize just confirme what I thought, it is a big corporation trying to enslave us by getting us dependent. We are lucky to have our own network, great website, travel guide books, social media, and the most important, guests who don t make reservation and just walk in without booking, and those always have a room, whitch couldn t be possible with B.com holding room for them. Hotel owers be strong and independant, your spirit and your soul will feel better on the long run.

  • Eveline
    Posted at 13:17h, 24 July Reply

    I noticed, reading through this, that B.com were under investigation in 2012 about their rate parity policy. I can’t find what happened to that. I know that it is still in their contract, but should it not be illegal?

  • Mark
    Posted at 14:21h, 08 August Reply

    “When I joined the hotel as FOM in-charge of revenue, I was shocked by the huge portion of B.com in the average occupancy for a month, 64%, 15 days later I had one of my agents forgot to cxl a fraud booking of 30 days in the extra-net, guess what! I had to pay B.com the commission of nearly 1K USD, on overbooking situation, u will never be able to reach some1 to help you out especially when your hotel is set in Auto replenish, means the moment you cxl a booking it gets replaced by another on the spot, 2 months later I got pissed from this guys, and implemented my own way to fill up my receptionists pockets with cash rather than paying huge amounts from 20% commission to B.com, today I managed to drug down their percentage to 12% only …. I don’t mind to NULL it ..”

    Hello FOM:

    Could you please tell explain more to learn about your approach

    Thank you very much for sharing

  • Abba
    Posted at 20:25h, 08 August Reply

    I have a small hotel and dealing with b.com last 4-5 years and I pay 20% commission. I also pay rent to the real owner of the property. So, I think b.com earns more than me from my hotel while I do all the dirty job. I work at least 12 hours a day for 7 days a week. Maybe I can give a small advice to other hotel owners. I changed my contract with b.com and now all my reservations are “non refundable”. Of course it scare many of the customers but whoever reserve a room definitely coming to the hotel. And most importantly, I charge credit cards just after they make reservation. So, I don’t have to wait for the clients to check-in to the hotel to get the money. If clients don’t accept this, they don’t make reservation (everything is legal and written clearly on our hotel page on b.com). I charge full amount of the reservation immediately. And I don’t have to pay back even if they want to cancel it. Because it is a non refundable reservation, they can not cancel. If I can not charge full amount from the customers credit card, I have right to mark the reservation as “invalid” and if client can not give a new credit card in 24 hours, I have right to cancel this reservation. All legal and correct.

    Sorry about my English, but hoteliers, don’t lower yourselves. Get less reservations but get real ones. Before I was getting 10 reservations with many problems, cancellations etc. Now I get 3-4 reservations but with no problems.

    Oh, one more thing; I have a fine website (professional SEO done) and I didn’t put any price at all. It is just clearly written on the front page mentions with large size fonts that customers will get %5 discount (from the lowest amount they can find on internet) if they call and make their reservation directly to the hotel. And I get lots of direct reservations.

    What will happen if b.com finds out? I don’t know, lets wait and see. 😉

  • John Bolton
    Posted at 22:50h, 08 August Reply

    Searched the web for complaints about booking agencies and found this web site, no point in searching Booking.com, complaints as you get Booking.com, book here.
    Ok, as a Guest House involved so to speak with BC I am not treated as a customer, which I am as I pay them commission. We get reviews on BC which in the main are good but ocassionally we get malicious and unfair reviews which we are unable to respond to as the Guest prevents this, for obvious reasons. Will BC change their policies regarding this, in no way will they do this. In the UK you can not survive without booking agencies but their philosophy is totally wrong and they have forgotten basic marketing philosophy as they see the Guests as their customers whereas the Guests are their prioduct they are selling to the customers they have forgotten, the hospitality industry, a reckioning is in the making.

  • Jay Krishnan
    Posted at 21:57h, 09 August Reply

    Booking.com does not publish all reviews. Recently I stayed in a hotel and had bad experience of having to wait an hour for checking in. I wrote about this in detail, but it did not appear in the booking.com site. This hotel is still listed as very nice and charming, while it is an average one. I did not even receive a mail from booking.com saying why they have not published my review. So I suspect that they are even selling the negative reviews back to the hotel and pasting only the good ones on their site. There are some negative reviews – to balance it out. But I feel they are hiding most of the negative ones.

  • Enis Ektem
    Posted at 13:17h, 10 August Reply

    Hi everyone,

    I run a boutique hotel with 10 rooms in Istanbul. I work with B.com for 5 years. Let me tell you:

    It is hoteliers’ worst best friend. And they are strong. Always remember those.

    If you know how to deal with that giant, you make good money. If you don’t know their rules, they make you pay for it or they keep you out of the pitch. So you better learn their rules.

    I don’t think guests prefer to contact to hotel directly. At least, “professional tourists” prefer B.com because they also know how to use it. Most of the guests prefer to make reservations by B.com because they think it’s safer than dealing with the hotel.

    Informations like “Last sale was 30 minutes ago” and “2 rooms left” are true informations. And I have never seen a fake comment on my or my neighbours’ hotel’s B.com page. They are reliable than TripAdvisor’s comments.

    Lastly, if there were another OTA that big and strong as B.com, I d leave B.com and work with that OTA immediately. When I say good things about B.com it doesn’t mean that they are an angel. What I’m saying is,

    You can trust B.com as a guest or an hotelier; only if you know well about their rules.

  • Joe
    Posted at 06:44h, 13 August Reply

    Booking.com used to be very profesional and the most reliable site for online bookings. I believe it is still one of the top but Expedia is threatening hard, especially in the profesional and truthfull way. When I say this I mean that booking.com has recently did one thing which compromises this site very seriously. I am talking about that little “thumb up” mark next to the name of certain motels/hotels, etc. When you hover over this mark with your mouse you get an information, roughly: this object participates in the most prefered program and is recommended from booking.com for its great service, prices and ratings. You would think that objects with thumbs up mark are really special and that they offer more compared to the accommodations which don’t have the same mark. I mean booking.com guarantee for this, right? Well, actually no! Properties gets this “special” thumbs up mark by paying for it to the booking.com. Owners of the properties pay 15% commission for every reservation instead of default 12% and they always have to keep one room available for booking.com site. This means that properties with thumbs up mark did not deserve this mark of excellence but they have bought it. So booking.com is actually laying and deceiving potential guests in the way that they guarantee for this object as a prefered one. This is a big disgrace and a huge disappointment for us, long time loyal users of Booking.com!

    Thanks for reading and please excuse my English.

  • bookings111
    Posted at 03:37h, 05 September Reply

    Booking.com owns agoda

  • Marija
    Posted at 23:42h, 09 September Reply

    Booking.com is big, no doubt about that, but quality is very poor. Unprofessional and unsafe. They do not stick to their side of the contract therefore no one is safe. Good companies and private renters are removing their listings from this site as they prefer to have 10% less bookings if necessary but without the stress and problems that booking.com brings into business so the medium or poor quality will stay on this site, but good ones will rely on something else rather than booking.com

  • Leah
    Posted at 09:28h, 19 September Reply

    So, can someone make a list of decent booking sites that don’t try to rip off hoteliers? with short comments on each one?
    I’ve worked with booking.com for a year now, i’d much rather take my business somewhere else.

  • A small hotel owner's nightmare with booking.comhotelrevu.com
    Posted at 16:00h, 25 September Reply

    […] large sites? A good start would be to diversify your marketing strategy according to a post on guestcentric.com. But make sure you’re not diversifying under one large corporate umbrella – see a breakdown […]

  • thetravelbug
    Posted at 16:49h, 07 October Reply

    Can anyone who has had problems with Booking.com get in touch with me. I am still, many months later, being threatened with legal action by them for non paid commissions, commissions that are not due. I have written twice to head office and nothing. Not even the decency of a reply. There seems many disgruntled hoteliers out there (as well as guests) so maybe we should take our stories to the media? Or at least have our own facebook group?

  • Pamela Barnhill
    Posted at 05:17h, 16 October Reply

    Great blog. Suggest checking out IBCHotels.com as both the guest and the hotel save. The commission is back to the old school 10% and the guest earn free nights worldwide. It’s a win-win for everyone.

  • Rooms Available At Booking.com My Booking - Last Minute Rooms
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  • Hugo Camarillo
    Posted at 01:36h, 18 December Reply

    How can I find out what is the commission booking charges to a hotel? I have a small property and I am still deciding if advertise my property on Booking . com.

    Thank you!

  • Ànnie
    Posted at 10:37h, 29 December Reply

    Don’t use booking.com. I had to find the hard way how they proceed. Their website states upon making the reservation the hotel/car rental,etc. would charge your card on the day of the reservation made. Well that is not the case. I book a hotel through booking.com for 2nights in Athens. Not only I did not get charged on the day I made the reservation, but I got charged 1 month after, or a day after I checked out. To top it off I got charged for international transaction fee. The whole purpose on booking my hotels prior from the states was to avoid the international transaction fee. And not only that but now it gets really hard for me to find out how much more I got charged. The exchange currency trade changes every day…. How stupid is that?!?!?! Not only that but you enter your card information for booking.com and they release that information to the hotel……
    Don’t book thorugh priceline nor booking. Pricilene is now actually booking.com. Better go to a different website if you want to save yourself hassle. My best bet now is when I call my bank to be reimbursed for the additional charges. I regret so much using booking.com!

  • jorge
    Posted at 21:03h, 31 December Reply

    I hace to say that booking is reallu nice and flexible I work in a small hotel Booking is our number one seller and you decide the amount of comition 20% is tour choicw abd of course they will sello more like any good vendor

  • Dublin B&B
    Posted at 22:59h, 01 January Reply

    I run a small bed and breakfast in Dublin and have worked with booking.com for the past 3 years. I’m a big fan at this stage as my revenue and occupancy rate have grown each year. Why? Because we are very highly rated in their user reviews and that’s what many of the end users of their site values. I have been able to up my rates because my product is excellent and the reviews reflect it. It’s a marvellous marketing platform for a small business. I pay 15% and have never had a bad experience with their support. Like a previous poster said about your best worst enemy. Follow the rules and understand the policies and then you can have a mutually beneficial relationship.

  • DL Mhan
    Posted at 04:33h, 06 January Reply

    I just pulled out of Booking.com after they cost me more than $2600.00 in bookings in a little more than one month. They don’t verify these so-called “guests” and every last one was a no show or very last minute cancel. When we receive a reservation we block out the rooms on other booking sites and our own reservation calendar to prevent overbooking. They don’t care that they cost us a tremendous amount of money over two holiday periods but are only looking for their commissions – they can pound sand. When we first started using Booking.com they were great, but are nothing but sloppy now. I could no longer afford to due business with a company that send us frauds for customers. Worst of all they attempt to hide behind Dutch Law although they are doing business in US. We now offer incentives for our repeat guests and since we don’t have to pay their commissions we can turn those savings over to our customers and they are the one’s that truly matter.

    I booked a reservation at my own establishment with Booking.com using all very ridiculous information and it was never picked up on. As a guest looking for a hotel using Booking.com I would be very worried about just where they are sending me and whether it is real or more importantly safe, based on my personal experiences. Be sure you do your due diligence when using Booking.com either as the hotel owner or the hotel guest.

  • Joao
    Posted at 22:06h, 06 January Reply

    Just booked rooms through them, thought I had read everything about the hotel. Booking confirmation has come through stating they do not accept ‘Stag Parties’ tried to phone the hotel straight away, no answer but message left. The hotel policy states you will be charged the full amount of one of the two nights if you cancel. If they don’t accept us as a stag party can they really still charge me if I tried to cancel straight away?

  • Roberto
    Posted at 00:56h, 14 January Reply

    I would NEVER I mean NEVER use these guys again for anything. I booked a hotel in Hawaii and had to change my check out date to one day earlier because of flight issues. Well Boooking.com would not even try to accommodate me. I am checking out of hotel a day earlier but they are charging me for the extra day claiming that the Hotel will not accommodate me. I contacted the hotel and they blame Bookings.com. As far as I am concerned Bookings.com took my application for the room and my credit card info and I hold them accountable. Bad company to deal with. I travel a lot in USA and Canada but can assure you I will NEVER use these guys again.

  • Wiltrud
    Posted at 12:25h, 14 January Reply

    We made a booking for my son through booking.com last year when he was going to participate in the powerlifting world championships at Iguazu. We eventually decided that he would not take part last year and we cancelled. I still have the cancellation e-mail confirmation from them and had no problem with it whatsoever. We have booked again for the championship later this year in Vegas, again through booking.com. I use them because they do not require upfront payment; we’re still in the process of arranging funding for this purpose.

  • Max Lewenhaupt
    Posted at 17:35h, 21 January Reply

    I never will trust on Booking.com any longer
    they promess to do not take money on advance
    but i get 2 times on problems with my bank for unplanned
    overdraft.
    I pay but i promess fight again Booking as long as i can.
    I strongly recommend to use other ways to book.

  • Henrywilliamsonn
    Posted at 08:40h, 23 January Reply

    I personally use nd trust on tazoff.com which is one of the leading hotel booking websites nowadays and is helping you find the right hotel at the right price.

  • Atno Smith
    Posted at 05:28h, 25 January Reply

    Booking.com is a scam operation posting false photos of the Empress Hotel in New Orleans and them charging your credit card three months in advance. We wanted to cancel when We found out how much of a dump the establishment was from previously traveled visitors photos. I have no problem supporting the small Mom and Pop operations, but don’t scam people with photo shopped photos.

  • Colleen Margaretson
    Posted at 01:40h, 01 February Reply

    We own a bed and breakfast in New Zealand but do not get many bookings through booking.com. They top up our occupancy. I am not a great fan for several reasons, but will stick with them for awhile longer. The instant confirmation to guests is a problem for us, being a small operation and with no recourse to using a Channel manager as they do not cover all the sites we are listed with. Unless I IMMEDIATELY update a booking from another source onto the booking.Com site, there is a very real chance of an over booking from them and to get that reversed is a nightmare. The reviews can help other guests , but they can easily damage your reputation with one guest review from someone who was just not a happy soul. As a guest who has also booked through this medium, I would rather contact the hotel or b&b directly because the rooms we have been allocated in various hotels in the past have definitely been the smallest and cheapest the hotel could offer, even though the photos showed things differently.

    • Julie T
      Posted at 00:35h, 25 December Reply

      Hi Colleen,
      I’m in agreement with your posting – an honest account!
      We are based in Melbourne, and can relate to your statements.
      Best of luck in the future as I have visited NZ on numerous trips.

  • monir hossain
    Posted at 02:58h, 01 February Reply

    Power and associates reported that Booking.com has the highest customer satisfaction rate of independent travel websites, mainly due to competitiveness of pricing.

  • Thomas
    Posted at 19:49h, 04 February Reply

    BE AWARE OF BOOKING.COM – They re the biggest cheater in this planet and it has to be forbidden immediately. They share credit card information of the guests with some extra income.. BE AWARE!!! Terrible events.

  • Kay
    Posted at 05:55h, 06 February Reply

    So glad I read these reviews before booking..I rang hotel direct asked for the same place as booking.com & they were more than happy to do so..Thanks Adrian Jones for the tip 🙂

  • Andrew
    Posted at 13:24h, 13 February Reply

    As a customer, what I want the most are good prices, review system and easy/flexible booking process. Booking.com does that well enough. It’s true that they share CC info, as in most cases they employ post-payment where I am charged at the hotel so they need that in order to allow the hotel to charge cancellation penalties. If you’re not there, they still need to be able to charge you somehow. I would rather give that info to booking.com over a secure standard channel (that is PCI-compliant) rather than directly to a hotel that may not employ a certified platform (smaller hotels may not afford audits for a PCI-certification or developers to integrate their systems with PCI-certified providers directly).

    Personally I’d love to book directly with hotels if they would directly match what I can get through booking.com. I *always* directly check their websites only to find that:
    – usability is awful and/or not supporting newer browsers
    – no ability to have bookings recognized by scheduling apps (google calendar, triptit) – sorry but I’m a techie and as such why would I manually build my trip schedule when I can do it with two simple email forwards to tripit (one for flights and one for hotel confirmations)?
    – higher prices (sometimes I find out to my shock that the hotel simply forgot to update their own online prices – reasons invoked usually come down to blaming an old management platform that was custom built back in the day but they don’t want to pay an outsourcing company to update it nor do they want in-hous developers). what impression does that leave? Yeah, I could call (once I did) and find out they could offer the same (no up-front charges, pay on checkin, etc) and did so (missing out on scheduling) but I’m probably not going to do that again.

    The article above is just as valid today: if you don’t want to be prisoner of a system, expand. Associate with other small hotels, beef up your booking system (get certified if you want to handle CC data), do some average SEO, go mobile ffs (mobile website, some mobile booking features). It’s expensive to ensure you won’t stay a victim of hawks like booking.com, but as long as their system has more to offer, then that’s how it’s gonna be!

    I’ve worked with booking systems before as a developers so I know what I’m talking about. Booking.com makes money from doing the things you (as a hotel) don’t want to invest in. Invest in those things and you won’t be reliant on them.

    • Julius Hudec
      Posted at 10:44h, 13 November Reply

      You are right. Good writen. But we as the small companies have to surviev and we made everything. Our mistake.

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  • hhbva
    Posted at 19:49h, 29 March Reply

    My experience with Booking.com was not pleasant. I booked 5 nights at a hotel in Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, in the Galapagos Islands through Agoda.com. The advertised price per night was $213.12. Thus, the total credit card payment I authorized was $1,065.60. There was a notation (in fine print) that a 10% service charge and 12% VAT were not included. The next things I knew was that I received notification from Booking.com that the hotel had informed them that my credit card had been declined, which left me, to put it mildly, stunned. I immediately contacted my credit card issuer only to find out that two separate attempts, in apparently rapid succession, had been made to charge my card, one for $1,065.60, which I had authorized in my Agoda.com booking, and a second for $1,300.03, which I had not authorized as part of the booking process. I recognized that the higher charge included the so-called “service” charge of 10& and the 12% VAT, both of which I had assumed would be collected separately by the hotel on check-out, as I believe is the norm, especially since the VAT is typically refundable at the airport prior to home-bound departure. What possible justification is there for collecting a “service” charge for services not yet rendered or a VAT for value not yet added? Nowhere was it disclosed on the booking site that these taxes would, separately from the original booking through Agoda.com, and immediately, be added by the hotel itself to the “booked” amount of $1,065.60. Nor was it even disclosed that Agoda.com and Booking.com were one and the same company, or at least affiliates of the same enterprise, i.e., Priceline.com. It should also be noted that an earlier rebuttal comment, above, on behalf of Booking.com that the site uses “post-payment,” i.e., payment at the hotel. That is not true, as my credit card was charged immediately upon booking. Thus, mine was a typical advance payment in full, to which I have no objection in and of itself, but I merely want to take exception to an the aforementioned comment. My principal complaint here is that Agoda/Booking.com uses less than completely and readily transparent advertised rates and fails to make complete and candid disclosure regarding the payment process in efforts to lure customers into using their site rather than the many others that are out there. To add insult to injury, when I complained about my experience to what I thought was the Booking.com “customer service” e-mail address, I received successive evasive non-replies that never acknowledged the real issues here. I am done with both Agoda.com and Booking.com whatever their affiliation.

  • Peter Orr
    Posted at 21:40h, 19 April Reply

    I operate a small hotel and we have been listed with booking.com for a year and a half. I’m generally pleased with the boost in occupancy and my dealings with booking.com — with one exception. A earlier post complained that booking.com did not vet its guests and the poster complained about his loss resulting from no-shows. We attempt to protect ourselves from such losses by a 25% deposit requirement which is paid through Paypal. It works pretty well to weed out the reservations by clients that are not committed to coming. When it becomes clear that the guest will not respond to the deposit request, the hotel has to notify booking.com customer service to request that they cancel the reservation. Other examples of when the hotel has to request the cancellation of a particular reservation is when the guest makes a request on the reservation that indicates they haven’t bothered to read the room description, such as requesting two beds for a room that has only one, or cooking facilities when the chose a room that does not have a kitchenette. If the guest does not respond to the hotel after being informed that their request is not possible to satisfy with the room they reserved, the hotel needs to convince customer service to record a cancellation. Then there is the situation where the guest notifies the hotel of a cancellation but does no bother to notify booking.com. None of this would be a problem if customer service was as responsive to the cancellation requests from the hotel as they presumably are to communications from guests. But it can take a week or more and several e-mails to get customer service to finally agree to agree to record the reservation as cancelled, even when all the proof necessary is provided by the hotel. In the meantime the room is not bookable. A couple of months ago I wrote the Booking.com CEO and complained that the hotel was losing revenue and booking.com was losing commissions because customer service was not geared to responding to cancellation requests by hotels. I am impressed that the CEO was quick to respond. He responded by saying that reservation cancellation was a guest driven process, so he wasn’t clear why a hotel would be involved in that process. The only mechanism booking.com provides to hotels to readily cancel a reservation is the no show button that only appears on the hotel’s booking.com extranet next to the reservation at midnight on the day the guest was supposed to arrive. As we don’t have experience with any other online booking service, I can’t say whether this is a common failing with such services.

    • Rachel Robinson
      Posted at 15:06h, 05 September Reply

      Your comments were written some time ago – but I just found then after an online search as I’m having exactly the same experience. I too contact guests as soon as the reservation comes in to ask for a deposit payment. I’d say it then splits pretty equally 3 ways between those that pay up and communicate just fine, those that instantly cancel, and finally those that do nothing at all. Its the last third that are driving me crazy. I push to cancel the booking. But if they don’t do the same from their end, I then have to ask booking.com to over ride this. Booking.com claim they need 7 to 10 days to check if the client is genuine before they will agree to a cancellation. And in the meantime of course, my room is unbookable to genuine clients. I only have 3 rooms so having a room unbookable for 2 weeks (time it takes to ask for the deposit, realise that its not coming, to ask for the cancellation and then get it) is a huge issue. As is the fact that after they’ve been so uncommunicative, I don’t feel I actually want these guests in our small friendly space! I understand that it would be poor practice to cancel guests – but the fact that I can’t cancel outright due to non payment of a deposit is crazy – the risk is all mine not booking.coms or the guests. Their CEOs response shows they really don’t care about the hotels end. If you managed to find a way to work around this – I really would love to know! (as would other small businesses close to me who are having the same experience). Thank you!

  • Jane Walke
    Posted at 21:27h, 21 April Reply

    As a hotel owner can you confirm if we are able to claim back VAT from the commission invoice.
    If not and because they are no longer in the UK please can you confirm when they left the UK.
    And when they were in the UK were we able to claim back the VAT then.

  • Lee Rivers
    Posted at 07:27h, 29 April Reply

    We have been with B.Com for 4 years, being a large corporate its hard to talk to customer services and often find them quite rude in their approach to the so called hotel partners. There is no flexibility even when it’s questionable who’s at fault they want their commissions, if it’s a double booking they win 2 sets of commisions.
    We have recently installed a new reservations system linked to a channel manager, a result of this is it seems to be driving bookings through our website which is free of commissions.
    We are now going to remove the different room type options from B.Com and keep the superior rooms for sale on our website only. Let’s use them to sell the worst rooms at a lower commision.
    In truth though it’s made easy with B.Com who have a ready made supply of customers, we can all be a victim of being lazy by becoming reliant on B.Com who in time will take over your business.

  • kevin sean
    Posted at 01:29h, 05 May Reply

    i ask for a hotel in ho chi minh city the one i booked with them it said was 6.5 kms away from the city center but was over 20kms away been 3 weeks now and still trying to get the money back they stole from my bank account because i didn’t take up the booking

  • Chris from Perth
    Posted at 13:14h, 06 May Reply

    Thanks for the article and comments.

    I have used B.com for many years to book rooms and am now retired and looking at villas in Bali for (a) when I am not using mine and (b) a couple I intend to built and rent.

    Usual horror stories in the responses and for customers a lot of it reading the fine print. Many hotels, etc on B.com have different prices for free cancellation n- if your travel insurance will not cover a cancellation (e.g. you changed your mind or got a better deal elsewhere), pay the extra for free cancellation so you can cancel the booking.

    If cancelling, try to help the hotel out by doing it asap – I am sure they appreciate the notice and the ability to re-let the room.

    Another handy hint, if not sure if the photos are up to spec or something else regarding the hotel or room, contact the hotel direct with an email. You can then ask your question, if not satisfied, you can then click on the free cancellation button.

    This can also be ammo for a dispute – e.g. you think the room you have booked looks photoshopped. Ask them to send you a photo of the room you are staying in and then if it in reality is not the room you get, you have email evidence from them.

    No free cancellation button? Use a different hotel.

    The posting above mine from kevin sean: why didn’t you check the hotel google maps? I always check google maps – I find the map on B.com is basically poor due to the small size – much rather just open a page on google maps and have a look (one reason I do not use their mobile app when booking somewhere I haven’t been before). I use my PC or Surface Pro 3 (both with nice big screens and you can click directions from the hotel to the city centre.

    I also like many posters have made a mistake and booked a room without cancel options and had to forfeit the room price. Booked Roosendaal in Holland last year – much cheaper than Amsterdam and train tickets are very cheap in Holland with good rail connections. The strikes by GDL on Deutche Bahn were coming out of the blue and we were stuck in Hungary with no way to get to Holland in time. The booking was non cancellable (my bad) and we lost about 90 Euros (wasn’t worth claiming on travel insurance which had an excess higher. My first mistake in 10 years of 3 trips a year to Europe!!

    I have never had the problem of double booking the same room on B.com. I have had a poor net connection and not been able to confirm if a booking went through. I suspect those who have been billed twice are clicking twice on confirmation because they didn’t think it had gone through (net connection is a bug bear of mine).

    Always wait 24 hours if something seems to go wrong with a booking – don’t just click confirm twice. Within 24 hours you will get the confirmation email – if you have net coverage 🙂

    If nothing comes through, check you credit card if paid up front and if nothing, then OK go ahead again.

    I have just booked 4 hotel bookings today – 3 with B.com and one with Accor/IBIS as I like their hotels and have a Gold Rating with them (Genius rating with B.com).

    IBIS booked and paid up front for Linz in June – got a good rate with a special on the emails and that one is locked as it is first point of call for the trip so if problems getting their including flights, I will have lots to claim on insurance.

    Also checked B.com for same hotel (more expensive and I don’t get the status credits with IBIS.

    Booked Koln in Germany on B.com for 2 days at a place I haven’t been before – checked the reviews and selected free cancellation extra 10% cost. (those GDL strikes on DB are on again all this week and who knows if they will be working when I get there!!).

    Booked my regular hotel in Bali for next week for 6 days on the pay now rate- price online at their website was more expensive. Again if a problem getting to Bali from Perth, it is probably claimable with the flight.

    Booked another 4 days at another hotel on B.com as a free cancellation for extra 10% – not sure if staying at a friend’s villa for those days or if I need the hotel. Will know when he finishes transit in a couple of days and can then cancel (early) if needed.

    NB: As I am Genius rated on B.com, all 3 bookings got a 10% extra discount 🙂 I am happy but not sure if this is a straight extra reduction to the hotel (on which they still pay the flat commission rate for the lower room rental receipt) or if B.com take a lower commission?

    I suspect the answer is leaning more to the first!!

    Conclusions on being a customer:

    1. Read the conditions and don’t assume
    2. Use the free cancellation option where possible – yes it costs more but it gives you flexibility (especially where travel insurance will not cover (again read your travel insurance wording on exclusions, inclusions, excesses, etc).
    3. Take good travel insurance out – I have an annual policy through Amex but there are plenty of good quality ones (don’t get sucked in on the cheap ones available on the web – too many horror stories and by far the highest level of complaints to the Australian ombudsman on insurances claims is travel insurance. Also book the travel insurance as soon as you book the first flight or accommodation – my wife broke her elbow 2 weeks ago and was due to fly to Canada to see our daughter this week before heading to Europe – she has a single trip travel insurance policy she took out 2 days before she did her elbow – has saved a fortune as she can now postpone and fly direct to Europe at the end of the month.
    4. Check other website and trip advisor – if raises questions, email the hotel.
    5. If going to use the same hotel a lot, when there have a chat with the manager to see if special discounts on booking direct (may have to give up free cancellation flexibility but can usually negotiate this).
    6. Book early. I plan my trips months advance, keep an eye out for specials (IBIS, UK Travelodge, Hilton, etc by registering for their emails). Flying from Perth (and soon Bali) costs an arm and a leg if you don’t book your flights and accom when you get good rates. I have a diary on outlook I use only for trios. I set the dates and start filling the locations and then link the bookings as I fill them. Usually save 50% if I can book 3 months out or longer. This European trip is a bit ad-hoc as I just retired but I am still saving 25%+

    Right, that is my thoughts from a regular travellers point of view.

    On to being a supplier of accommodation (hopefully next year).

    Up to 3 villas to rent in Bali and never having done this before, I was looking for some info (did a google and came up with this excellent article).

    Probably if go ahead would use the villas.com affiliate which I presume has the same commission rates – people have bandied around 20%, 15% and 12% – all a bit high but I know some retirees in Bali who just rely on their own website and don’t get much business.

    Probably will check it out – not sure what their fine print is in regards their rules (some very negative and quite positive comments on B.com’s rules here so will have to find out and see if I can make head or tails of them.

    Thinking of either no cancellation option or more than the standard 2 days cancellation notice they show on B.com – do they allow longer? I can see the early bookings being a risk if they cancel at the last minute and leave me high and dry (and empty). A late cancellation can really be a problem with little chance to fill the gap as early books block the room.

    Staff costs in Bali are ridiculously cheap but they are still a cost as having people on standby and late cancellation will eat into revenue.

    Another thought is to get a driver to pick up and drop off at the airport – can you tailor the site so people can ask (and pay for this and so you have an option to find out the flight details and how many need to be picked up?).

    Will also want to get a map reference added (road signage is poor in Bali and house/ villa numbers almost no existent, so they will need good directions if getting their own transport).

    Would also like to link to my own website (doubt they will let that happen), so I can lay out some options for them (driver availability, tourist trips, internet usage, computer usage, shops for food, meal options, phone chips, maps, housekeeper options, etc).

    I would rather they have this info before they arrive – many people take short trips in Bali (week or less). Having to sort all that out when they arrive with hard copies will be a pain (especially if I am travelling and having to rely on a manager).

    Does the B.com and villas.com allow you the booking guest’s email address? Would be easier as all this can be pre-planned before they arrive.

    Lots of questions and if anyone wants to help, please answer on here.

    Will be interesting exercise and see if I can learn from some of the issues others have had – appreciate the comments to date. Keep them rolling 🙂

    Chris

  • Joni
    Posted at 05:10h, 09 May Reply

    Booking.com scam the user – they gave me a final price and promised no additional fees and no payment till yet charged me a non refundable fee for using my credit card when there is no other option to pay. Then they asked for multiple pieces of evidence to prove we were charged a fee we shouldn’t have been and after all that did nothing. they also mention that they want your CC details only to secure the booking yet immediately charged my card.

    They cost significantly more than other hotels in the area so we cancelled, only to find we had lost the 2 % already charged to our CC despite promises they don’t do this.

    Wish we’d read the 100 odd other unhappy customers reviews first on other sites!

    Wouldn’t use them again.

  • steve
    Posted at 18:09h, 13 May Reply

    As a hotelier myself i can comment on the (NONE) performance of booking.com. I have been trying to register my property with them since Jan this year and have been given the runaround. This week i finally got a reply to assist with going on line only to be told that as the property is for sale they would not accept my application. THIS IS AFTER FILLING IN COUNTLESS FORMS, nowhere are you asked that question. Having left my previous service i have now lost several thousand pounds and not a word of apology from booking.com. I will certainly not recommend them to anyone.

  • hula
    Posted at 15:24h, 31 May Reply

    The worst is the new email policy. All emails go thru them. Occasionally they will forward an email to me but I usually have to actually be ON booking.com’s site to receive emails from my customers. Not only am I not on my computer all the time (after all, I run a hotel), but I certainly do not have their site up all the time when I am on my computer.

  • hula
    Posted at 02:59h, 05 June Reply

    Thought the email policy was bad, Now it seems Booking.com will no longer be sharing credit card info either. They will collect the funds and then charge the hotels a percentage to access the funds, in addition to their commission. Feed the Beast!

  • Jeff Fergueon
    Posted at 03:34h, 18 June Reply

    Hi All,

    As a villa Owner, am listed on as many sites as possible. However, we also list on world Skies Holidays. They offer commission free bookings. They then charge a small booking fee to the guest so that the hotels can maximize their profits.

    http://www.worldskiesholidays.com/hoteladmin/

  • Tomas M.
    Posted at 13:25h, 22 June Reply

    I have to write about this in case anyone would like to start doing business with Booking.com. Out small inn in the middle of Europe is one of the keenest places to stay, about half hour from Prague. The stay is so great that we rarely get a rating below 9.0 on any servers. Until now. Booking.com has done it. A guest stayed at our inn and although it is a non-smoking inn and all the guests are informed about this on booking.com, vouchers and here upon arrival, this guest chose to smoke in our room. My colleague saw him and he tried to hide. We kindly asked him to stop, even though we would normally ask such a guest to leave. We had to clean up the room and the wall outside of the guests window to remove the ashes from when he put out the cigarette. Upon review, this guest gave us such a low grade that it moved our overall review by a whole point. This has lowered our business quite a bit. When I called booking.com asking them to remove the unfair review or allow us to comment on it, they refused. I feel this is a very unfair practice from this company. If you are considering working with them you should think twice.

    • Nelson
      Posted at 16:58h, 10 September Reply

      Same here
      its useless to ask them to remove a review
      they wont!
      b.com is great in getting customers… but extremely rude to owners
      in my case, and to let everyone clear, one of the last experiences i provided to a couple were renting a room for 100€ in b.com
      when they arrived they saw my price list, the same room for 55€
      then they asked: how is this possible?
      me: well, you are going to pay the comission to b.com
      guest: (they remained in silence!)

    • Julie T
      Posted at 00:53h, 25 December Reply

      Hi Tomas,
      Yes the exact same thing happened to us in Melbourne, Australia.
      2 guests ignored our non-smoking property policy (clearly listed on BC, in the booking confirmation, emailed information AND signs inside the apartment and leave a negative review!
      Property owner loses out every which way and damages our business reputation.

  • Anne Marie Abraham
    Posted at 17:00h, 27 August Reply

    During July and August 2015, I had 2 reservations at hotels made through Booking.com:
    1) Reservation at One King West Hotel and Residence, Toronto, Canada – Reservation was confirmed by Booking.com to include laundry facilities. When I arrived at the hotel I was told the room and the rate quoted by Booking.com would not be honored by the hotel. I was charged extra for a room with laundry facilities.
    2) Reservation at Lord Nelson Hotel, Halifax, Canada. This was originally booked for single occupancy one bed, but was changed for double occupancy for 2 beds. I received and have the Booking.com confirmation for 2 beds, double occupancy at the same rate. When my husband and 29 year old daughter arrived at the hotel, they were told the room was single occupancy, one bed and the hotel was fully booked. This necessitated my husband and daughter sharing a bed in a very small room.

  • selina
    Posted at 21:02h, 22 September Reply

    I have used booking.com as a host for 10 months now. We can’t accept card payments in the townhouse as we don’t have a card machine installed into our home. So we ask guests to either pay deposit through Paypal or bank transfer, or pay cash on the day. We have had guests not responding to their emails (through booking.com system) and not paying deposit, then not cancelling their booking and not even turning up! But booking.com won’t open up the days of ‘guest didn’t show’ so we could have a booking replaced. We lost out money, time, cleaners, waiting around for hours for guests who didn’t bother turning up or letting us know, and not paying for it. Most of all was the lack of help from booking.com

    Last straw was when a guest booked a weekend stay of £400+. Didn’t pay deposit, didn’t pick up calls or emails, and finally didn’t turn up on the day. I called booking.com helpline and after 5 hours they simply wrote back ‘guest says he did not make the booking’ then another replied ‘guest apologises for not being able to cancel prior to checking in date’ – our policy was non-refundable. The calendar still showed we were fully booked so no one could book with us. Booking.com is an absolute nightmare. They are rude and have never shown any interest in helping hosts get through their unusable booking system. It is not user friendly to us and their commission is way over priced for what their service is.

    Bottom line, booking.com = bookelsewhere.com

  • Tim Frenklin
    Posted at 05:38h, 28 September Reply

    I have used booking.com & I extremely satisfied with its services.

  • Gary Smith
    Posted at 08:20h, 07 October Reply

    I totally agree with Selina’s post above. Booking.com customer service is not fit for purpose in my eaperience. Customers booking on the website can hold rooms open, not pay the deposit and booking.com do nothing about it. I have resorted to complaining on Twitter @booking.com to name and shame, but even struggle to get a response via this route. .Reservation ID: 336698391 is the latest problem. Customer presses the booking button, promises to pay a deposit, but nothing materialises. I ask Booking.com for help to secure the deposit or release the room and nothing in reply. Previous guests have told me the Booking.com website is ambiguous suggesting no credit card is required, to secure the booking, when we dont actually take credit cards but clearly ask for a deposit by bank transfer. We have asked Booking.com repeatedly to honestly portray the facts to avoid confusion but they wont do anything. All owners have a choice whether to use Booking.com and accept their format, but unless things improve dramatically we will be leaving the site. Meanwhile hopefully someone replies to our query on Reservation ID: 336698391

  • An affiliate
    Posted at 12:42h, 20 October Reply

    Of course with 98% satisfaction comes the 2% who will scream and post about it online. We’ve all done it.

    As for the opaqueness of the situation for affiliates, B.com will not reveal the hotel commission to me, so I do not know if I am getting 25-40% of 12%, 15%, 18%, 20%, etc…

    I suppose the thought it an affiliate is too small to matter…at this point there’s enough type-in and organic traffic. Probably correct.
    As with everything else these days, find a small untapped niche and exploit that.

  • Hermien Brittnell
    Posted at 20:16h, 13 November Reply

    Thanks for this great article. I can SO relate to this… Excited every time a booking is made via Booking.com, but then when the bill arrives I feel quite depressed paying Booking.Com that huge amount for commission while me and my husband is doing all the hard work! With a small 6-bedroom guesthouse and a lot of “competition” in town, we cannot survive without being listed on Booking.com! I am definitely going to explore all the great tips for other marketing channels. We did get a great looking website live about two months ago, especially with the intension to draw more direct bookings and hopefully pay less commission to Booking.com.
    Regards Hermien, Karoo Sun Guesthouse, Oudtshoorn, South Africa

  • Alex
    Posted at 21:03h, 11 January Reply

    I will totally not recommend booking.com for the following reason.
    I booked a hotel for Marseille in October 2015. The room booked (Hotel le Vieux port) was indicated as a 2 adults + 2 children room. But, when I arrived, the room was only for 2 adults and one child! I contacted booking.com by phone about that issue and their agent admitted the responsibility of booking.com. She ensured me I would be refund and found me another hotel (for which I paid again). After a few months I checked my statements and saw no refund. I contacted the customer service, but booking.com is now refusing to refund me pretexting that the hotel does not want to refund them!
    Since booking.com did not honor the agreement we had, I am sharing this story in order to prevent other people from having the same issue !

  • Phil
    Posted at 07:22h, 15 January Reply

    Re. “J.D. Power and associates reported that Booking.com has the highest customer satisfaction rate of independent travel websites,” — This is nonsense. I’ve just checked reviews on multiple websites, and booking.com has the lowest reviews of any travel website, by a LARGE margin. I think it has the lowest average reviews of any website of any type that I’ve ever seen; nearly all reviewers gave it the lowest rating possible and accused it of fraud.

  • Oliver
    Posted at 15:03h, 09 March Reply

    Thank you for this really interesting and informative article, found it really useful.

    Thank you,
    Regards,
    -Oliver

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  • Sara O'Dowd
    Posted at 18:47h, 06 June Reply

    Today I contacted Booking.Com to ask if they would remove a review from a group who had so underscored my small B & B that it had knocked down a point, based on several issues the group had not bothered to read on the site. Booking.Com declined to remove it so I asked if they felt it was fair for me to have to pick up the flack for a group of people who had not read the site prior to booking. Booking.com said they didn’t feel it was fair but still refused to take the review off. This is the second time this has happened. I have a new business and am really looking forward to removing my listing from this agency who most certainly is not working in my favour. They have bought me in business but I am wondering if hanging around will also lose me business. It appears customers can say anything and all is allowed without challenge, even when the evidence is in front of Booking.Com. What a farcical situation. They need us, the hoteliers, to supply their business yet play a one sided hand. This is not smart business and nor currently it would appear, is staying with them.

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  • tbsbet
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  • Natalia
    Posted at 09:30h, 22 June Reply

    As many ppl said b.com do not create reservation, they only send us client details include credit card information (I may have your card details as well and who knows if one of my employee will use it to purchase something in internet? It’s not safe for clients at all!)
    . I manage one villa in bali, let’s say I have only one room. I can not charge credit card of the guest directly. I ask guest to pay deposit to me to confirm reservation. It works out with 30% of clients who understand situation. Other clients start to tell me that they booked already, they have confirmation. They even arrive to my villa, call police, show them booking.com confirmation and it take hours to connect to b.com customer service and get explanation from their managers.
    So now I just offer my guests discount and offer them to cancel b.com and pay deposit through my website.
    For myself as traveller I use b.com to find better place to stay (on map) but always book directly with hotel. Ian’s honestly, description of most hotels made by robot and not informative at all. I may use also Agoda as they are responsible for reservations as they hold my payment.

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  • eHolidays
    Posted at 20:00h, 26 July Reply

    Exactly as most of you said, booking.com is good but not everything works out fine for everyone. And when something goes wrong hotels and booking have a way to dispute your claims, even in some situations when you stay without money because of someone else`s fault.

    Would stay away and try to book through local travel agencies or directly with hotels.

  • Tetje Van der Woude
    Posted at 22:17h, 10 August Reply

    did booking.com really expect a senior. grandson and his mom expect us to sleep in one big huge bed? we said two nights, two BEDS. they were offering us a cot, but where are you going to put it? high tourist season and we run around late at night in Banff to find something! what a ruined holiday all the way through. then the next year, we didn’t know it was automatically directed to you or we would have cancelled, but why do you charge the 10$ for a pet? you don’t have to put up with it. and wrong again. 2 BEDS, ONE NIGHT. ITS THAT SIMPLE BUT YOU CANT MAKE IT SIMPLE. where’s my daughter-in-law’s review. one mad human you made out of her. TWICE. not booking .com. its booking .bleep

  • Philippa Tarling
    Posted at 23:31h, 16 August Reply

    I have been with booking.com for 12 long years. yes, I have had many thousands of GB pounds of bookings but there is no reduction in the commission we pay ever. There is a disconnect between what a guest pays and what the hotelier has to work with. I.E. a guest pays GBP100 for a room for 2 people, VAT is 20%, Booking.com commission is 15% so 35% of the room price has gone before the hotelier has even put a pillowcase on the bed or toilet paper in the bathroom. Every time something goes wrong Booking.com will ask and expect the hotelier to “recompense” the guest even if it is their mistake, we are always asked to foot the bill for errors, there is never any give and take from Booking.com.. Guests seem totally unaware that we pay commission, in fact they are often stunned that we have paid 15% for their stay, they are very careful in keeping how they make money a secret from the guest or “our mutual guest” as they like to call them. ONE DAY hopefully guests will realise that they are just a search engine. Slowly we are educating our guests but it only works if the guests are repeat bookers and learn to ring us direct the next time. Booking.com are slowly trying to prevent any direct contact between us and “OUR” guests to protect their commission revenue. Guest reviews are also so slanted away from us, we have no right to challenge a review, it can not be taken off. many times I have messaged them about the location aspect of the review score – I mean if someone books my Inn which is in a quiet village location how can they complain that I am 6 miles from another town which they wanted to be closer to, I can hardly pick up my Inn and move it to another village. Their replies are absolutely meaningless and a waste of time. I point out that as we are the ones who pay then we are their customers but they just don’t get it. The guest who pays no commission is all that matters we are just the powerless mugs caught in their larger corporate web. I hate them but as an independent I am powerless to fight against them. The internet has made people lazy and the advertising that these companies put out we the hapless small hoteliers have paid for. One day guests will rediscover the telephone and use booking.com as just a search engine and then ring direct to speak to real people, well I hope so!

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  • SH
    Posted at 08:46h, 02 September Reply

    After reading your article I wanted to share my experience with BC. I have a small rental complex of 2 beautiful holiday cottages on the riverside, and work with BC for 3 seasons now. I am also located near the sea coast (outside the capital city) and my BC commission is the lowest mentioned in this thread. We do really a very hard work to get our name recognized. My BC review rate is 9.7 (out of 100 reviews and we are to be found in the first page by customer rating in our country. My host and cleanliness rate is 9.9.

    In the first season (we work during the summer season only) all bookings came exclusively through the BC. We were almost fully sold and the first booking came in after 10 minutes our rental was made active on BC site. In the first season we had only good experience with BC although the total bill of the season we had to pay was quite a costly. In the second season I discovered many other options to diversify my independence from BC and started to work with Air B&B and some other alternatives which reduced my BC dependency to 80% of all received bookings. In the third season we made our own website and Facebook page and add again some new reservation partners and thus reduced our BC dependency to 70%. Prices are about the same for each booking site but we got different customers who do not use BC at all, e.g. 80% of our German speaking guests booked through Air B&B and their local German sites for holiday homes. We will continue to diversify our availability through different engines and will experiment with BC reservation terms (with those which we can set ourselves). By putting min. 2 days stay we will drop local guests who come only for Saturdays thus allowing foreign guests who book longer periods have also weekends available. And local guests will contact us directly to make one night bookings.

    What is worth to mention is that you must carefully read all BC rules and fully understand that BC is only a search engine and their customer service is a team of mechanic robots which will explain you their rules on phone or via email and nothing more. All what they do is based on their own researches (they think they know better what the guests want) and they do not interfere in anything. Also those standard/automatized stupid descriptions of accommodations which are made by robots sound really stupid if I read them as a potential guest. When I tried to customize mine, I could only add some fine print telling that loud behavior and parties are prohibited at my property. And thanks to this fine print I do not get bookings from people who want to come to party. If I receive booking from 4 adults (max. occupancy per cottage) I always send them polite reminder telling that we are located in very quiet residential area and they will not have any trouble caused by their neighbors in other cottage as parties are prohibited here. This works perfectly and if the intention was to party they cancel immediately after my email or phone message and room is bookable again. In the first season I got some lower scores (all without comments) only because I had to ask some guests to quiet down after 11 p.m. Now this situation is solved. Also possibility to add your own description of your place can help a lot.

    I have also had some funny moments with BC. I received same day arrival 2 nights booking from far away country located in the Pacific ocean. Guest did not show up and at 2 a.m. I went to sleep. At 5 p.m. I received a call from BC reservation service that customer is standing at my door and nobody lets him in. I wake up and came down to meet the guest but there was nobody. After 1 hour BC reservation service called me again and insisted I have to let my guest in. i told them I have no guest so I cannot let him in. They asked me once more my address details and called back after 30 minutes. They insisted that guest has arrived and stands at check in desk but nobody wants to check him in telling that he has not valid reservation number. I started to laugh and told them I have no check in desk at all and asked if the guest arrived at the right place. Yes, they said, guest is AT YOUR PLACE. I told them I will go downstairs again to look where he is. After another 30 minutes the reservation service called me again willing to personally thank me that everything went through and guest was checked in. I asked how it is possible and they told me that guest is checked in room 214. I told them I have 2 holiday cottages and there is no room 214. The reservation service girl asked me to hold the line and after quit a long waiting she apologized for the trouble she caused to me telling that guest was checked in the 3 stars hotel with the same name I have for my accommodation but in different country (in the same country from where the booking came)….The most interesting was the fact that I could see guest credit card details even if I was accepting cash only. Neither BC nor guest pay me for my inconveniences – heating was on all the night long, I did not sleep at night and they were bombing me with calls. They later explained me that guest made booking via Agoda.com and occasionally booked my place instead of his homeland place. Guest did not speak English at all.

    So the good thing is that with BC you are everywhere. The bad thing is that if you accept bookings without credit card details (cash only) then you can loose lot of money due to false and cancelled bookings. I am using cash only and I have no possibility to charge no show fee, guests simply do not react on it and more often their address details are incorrect. E.g. yesterday I got booking from one country (with non existent address), phone number was from another country (also non existent number) and guest language was again different. I reached BC customer service to cancel this fake booking for 2 weeks period and Customer service confessed that details given by guest are fake indeed but they cannot cancel the booking anyway. The only thing I can do now is to wait till no show button appears and make this guest no show.

    Since I have not find any other place to share host opinions about BC I shared my experience here. I suggest anyone who reads this to share their experience, too.

  • Jeffrey Tedford
    Posted at 06:12h, 04 September Reply

    I’ve used booking.com for years. Recently I’ve had two bad experiences. The first was when I booked a room for 3 nights in Chiang Mai.. I received two bookings back, one for the one a wanted and the other for a resort I’ve never heard of before..I was charged $156 for the erroneous booking. It took me 1 week to get my money back. Recently I booked a hotel for what I thought was 2 different nights. I received a confirmation for 2 rooms on the same night!! I am a solo traveler, I do not need 2 rooms!!! I have been fighting with them for about a month. They charged me for the other room!! No more business with them. Travelers beware, you have no rights a forget their customer service and you cannot phone them, believe me I have tried.

  • Rachel Robinson
    Posted at 15:34h, 13 September Reply

    Anyone know how to actually get a reply in regards to cancelling a listing? I can’t bear to work with this company a second longer. I only list two rooms with them – but even that is a nightmare. Only one third of clients prove to be genuine, so I waste time trying to work out which will actually turn up. I was managing to do that by asking for a deposit – which after two months they suddenly tell me I can not do. Despite numerous requests and conversations the most noticable part of my listing isn’t my great location or decor etc – but the no deposit, free cancellation etc rubbish they insist in putting all over it. It just invites timewasters and scams. Even the bookings I get I find the guests unrealistic as to what to expect from us (we’re a small 3 room family run place, not a big hotel). I get a different answer from them each time I ask the same question. They refuse to cancel bookings made 10 months ahead when the clients have not responded to me. I’m now mailing to say I’ll honor the bookings I’ve accepted for this year – but I won’t accept any more and to please cancel my listing. I’ve blocked the calendar to ensure this – but I’m getting no official response. Anyone managed it? 🙁

  • Sona
    Posted at 20:12h, 17 September Reply

    Booking.Com are crocks. When they book rooms in hotels they pick the worse rooms to give to customers. Also, there is always is something hidden between the lines you never find out till you get to the hotel, so you end up paying more. They are liars and the problem their is no one to stop them. I wish someone will stand and close them down. People please help me to find away to close them down.

  • AshwinKanna
    Posted at 10:55h, 26 May Reply

    Thanks for giving this information. Balancing a booking for a friend like parties. You want to search for the list of the commenting like a benefits.

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  • Sarah Gilbert
    Posted at 11:31h, 29 May Reply

    booking.com has nearly bankrupted me in that last 2 months. I am a small holiday flat rental business in London. They won’t allow me to take card details in advance, customers can cancel or “no Show” without penalty. My days are blocked on the claendar with non arrivals and non-payment. They are impossible to contact.
    A shocking organisation.

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  • Veritable Seattle Senior Housing Hearthstone
    Posted at 08:03h, 27 October Reply

    Whatever the future holds, Booking.com clearly has the potential to be the gift that keeps on giving.

  • Gunther Schadow
    Posted at 00:15h, 09 November Reply

    This is an excellent article to learn about the issues and a good discussion thread to get some more depth of experiences and ideas. It perfectly demonstrates the love-hate relationship that hoteliers find themselves in. Booking.com has a huge market capture among customers and you will be hard pressed to find an alternative that gets more traffic than booking.com. I am a very small part time operator of a place with less than 10 units, and stuck between AirBnB and booking.com. On AirBnB the commission is just 3% and on booking.com it’s 15%. That’s a huge difference. On the other hand, on AirBnB it is hard to manage a place with multiple rooms as they are more about home sharing. And now comes I as a customer of booking.com telling you that I love booking.com. This is the crux you are all in, and I am now in too, as I swallow hard over their fees! But I tell you booking.com is here to stay and the only alternative to it must be a total gaime-changer tecnology. Otherwise the booking.com market will just increase.

    I can tell you why. As a hotel guest who travels frequently around the world, and who hates making long term plans, booking.com is perfect. I am computer literate, and I tell you NONE of the people who complain here as guests have any clue. It is bogus to claim that the rating system and feedback is useless. They are good, and have outdone TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor is going down IMO, I don’t use them, they are making my life too hard. And I never managed to use them to list my property either, as they only work with established businesses not with small part time hosts like me. Ratings on booking.com are very useful. The map feature is useful. Their mobile app rocks! When I come into a city at night ready to retire, I zap on the app and find a place near me, list by price (20% for the “preferred listing” position is b/s, I don’t fall for that as a guest, I go by location and price. I’m a map guy, so the map is my thing.

    I tell you why I do not contact the hotels. I travel in all the world and I find telephone calls difficult to make, you never know if your cellphone credits will last the whole conversation but I know I have a day of Internet, or I am on some wacky WiFi while stopped at a gas station / cafe. Also, the phone quality and language barrier is too annoying. So I won’t even try. Email? Forget that! I want an answer right now and I won’t even find my answer in 48 hours in my inbox. Forget email.

    And more, you probably hate me for that. To me a hotel is a necessity. I do not really care much about “the experience”. And I think most users think that way. I care about the bed and I like to have breakfast included. But what I like most is the ability to book and cancel on short notice, because I can’t and don’t like to plan my life months ahead.

    I feel your pain on the booking.com commission, and your worst fears are probably right. They will soon not even list your phone numbers any more (not that they are useful to begin with, see above). Your ability to make side deals with the guests are limited. You won’t be able to include their higher markup in your rates, and poor you if you are in high tax jurisdictions (did you know: Taxation is Theft! Now you have it. Think about that before you ask the government to do things.) Move to a low tax area. Guests wisen up too. Most people I know hate New York City for example.

    The problem is booking.com has the customers because they are a great site. I don’t use hotels.com or anything else, except perhaps, sometimes hotwire.com, which might be the only place where you can offer lower rates than booking.com because your name won’t be shown, but most customers won’t like that surprise factor on hotwire.

    The problem with internet presence is that the customer market is the key. And that is the value that booking.com sells to us as hoteliers. It is the way it is. No whining and hoping will change that. To the customer another site does not help much. The only alternative might be Google because of their Google Maps integration. But I as a customer do not use Google maps hotels so much because in the end they throw me back to “contact hotel for price” which is an instant fail for me (like I said, I don’t like to call and I don’t have time for email). I don’t mess with hotel’s booking pages, they are usually dinky and inaccurate and don’t tell me a price and nothing for last minute. So again it is back to booking.com.

    Someone here said they want to open a competitor site to booking.com. Forget it. If you need to ask how to do that, you will never compete, and I as a customer won’t use you if you have no market. You are most likely too late. Now you Hotels, if you were to make your own coop site, I guarantee you that I as a customer would feel suspicious, because I would suspect you big boys would protect your market and lock out small competitors that I would prefer for location or price or both. So, forget the co-op model,.

    There is ONE hope. Like I said above, and that would be a technological game changer. A free open source app which would work in some peer to peer way and would be connected to a map and would create a market in which supply and demand negotiates efficiently and all peer to peer with no man in the middle. It could integrate with credit card somehow as a 3rd party, may be pay pal, or even with crypto-curency I am in the IT business and you can contact me if you want to develop some ideas. I tell you, I bet 100% that unless hoteliers build up a game changing technology, that cuts out the middle man (and the greedy hand of the tax man too, preferably) you will forever be stuck with booking..com

  • jasson
    Posted at 14:13h, 13 November Reply

    Not everyone agrees it’s all doom and gloom for brick-and-mortar stores, but challenges certainly exist. Major retailers have announced plans to close thousands of locations in the U.S., and the final tally for 2017 could number around 9,500 stores, according to projections from Fung Global Retail & Technology, an industry think tank.

    But just because a store turns out its lights doesn’t mean the end is also nigh for your store credit card. Its fate depends on the retailer’s business plans and decisions made by the bank that issues the card. The better you understand the process, the better you can manage your credit and keep it in good standing.

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  • Linda Pankhurst
    Posted at 04:55h, 03 January Reply

    ANONYMOUS REVIEWS that CANNOT be ANSWERED…

    It is most unprofessional and unfair for Booking.com to be protecting Guests more than they protect their Partners.

    It is understandable that the Guest supplies Revenue to both Booking.com and the Hotel …

    However, if ALL Hotels were to avoid Booking.com, there would be very little accommodation available. Does this fact get overlooked bcause Booking.com is in a position of Power?

    The gripe here is that Anonymous Reviews are accepted on Booking.com where the guest can choose not to allow the hotel to respond or to defend themselves.

    THIS IS MOST UNPROFESSIONAL AND UNFAIR – don’t you think!?

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