Booking.com is part of The Priceline Group and the headquarters for the company are in the Netherlands. They operate 130 different offices in 50 countries (including the US). Booking.com is a portal for discount reservations in hotels, motels, beds and breakfasts, hostels, apartments, etc. offering the ability to comparison shop online to find the best deal for you.
- Selection options
- Large network
- Specials for members
- Search engine
The selection of lodging is extensive and unlike some discount reservation sites, the traveler is able to select the property which they are making reservations for their upcoming stay. The information on the Booking.com website is easily navigated and travelers are able to search for properties based upon various criteria by selecting different purposes of travel or interests (romantic getaways, proximity to historical sites or monuments, etc.). This allows the traveler to customize their trip in ways that they might not be able to otherwise due to unfamiliarity with the area.
The network of properties worldwide is reported at over 500,000 by Booking.com and they offer a lowest price guarantee (although some reviews suggest that the terms for this guarantee are difficult to meet). Booking.com offers a "Pay when you stay" policy, stating that your credit card is charged at the property when you arrive.
Specials for Members
Booking.com offers specials for members of their site. Membership is free and comes with the ability to opt-in for deals in previously browsed or booked locations. There are also deals available for last minute travel as well. (Be aware that these bookings are date specific and are usually not refundable under any circumstance).
Booking.com also sets itself apart from other travel agencies due to its search engine which allows travelers to decide where to travel to based on their interests. It also lists several suggestions on its destination finder page with reasons why a customer may be interested. For example, Booking.com will most likely recommend Las Vegas to a traveler interested in:
- Adventurous activities
Customer service representatives are friendly and available 24/7 via phone as well as via email. The average wait time for a response was 8 hours for an email response.
- Cancellation policy
There are several recent complaints found about Booking.com online regarding cancellation issues, overbooking of rooms (resulting in travelers arriving at their hotel booked through Booking.com and not having a reservation), or properties being sub-standard. These issues have been reported to and can be found at consumeraffairs.com. It is important to remember that people as a whole are far more likely to report negative experiences than positive, but we feel that these complaints are enough to report and take notice of when planning a vacation.
Booking.com helps thousands of travelers each month plan, manage, and even alter their travel plans. With the sheer volume of users, there are still holes that come with a large-scale service. Common complaints of those who use Booking.com for their online booking needs include:
- Incorrect descriptions of accommodations
- Incorrect processing of payments
- Loss of money due to exchange rates
The cancellation policy is vague and requires a reservation to be initiated to see for the various properties. Customer service agents reported that up to 15% of the total cost for the room may be retained by Booking.com in the event of a cancellation. This information was not readily visible on the website and was only obtained after customers questioned the customer service agents repeatedly. (One reviewer stated that this appeared to be a deliberate policy of non-transparency.)
The Bottom Line
With the number of recent complaints and all following a similar theme, we feel that making reservations with Booking.com should be considered with caution. The ability to compare different properties is indeed a benefit, but the risk of not having a reservation and/or losing hard-earned money can make vacation memories - just not the ones that you would want to bring home!
With a little legwork, you can match or beat the deals offered by going to the hotel sites directly or use another reservation site and avoid the risks which appear to be present here. Those that use Booking.com can expect the following from the service:
- Filter: Sorting, currency, language tools
- Organize: Travel Management
- Additional saving: Bundle and save option
- Protection: No travel insurance
- Rewards: No rewards program