Online Booking Engines (Good & Bad)

Ozgirl

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Thought I would start a thread bout online booking engines.

Ie Expedia.

Hotels.com

Booking.com etc

Any lessons learned - or why you choose one over the other.

We are currently researching for our trip to Europe next Christmas/January and we ended up booking with Expedia for our flights and apparently we get access to heavily discounted hotels for a short time post booking.

Turns out that "up to 55%' is more like 15%. And i am not sure that is even that much of a bargain. However they do claim to match any offer - yet to test this either...

I am leaning towards booking.com to be a fav. We have booked a lot of hotels already that are able to be cancelled up to sometimes within a day of arriving and we have paid nothing!

Downside is we can't lock in the exchange rate.

Expedia you can still book hotels on rates that are cancel-able - however they actually charge you on the spot with a refund if you cancel (yet to actually test this)

This is great if you want to confirm the rate you are paying against currency changes.

Not so great if you prefer the cash in your back account.
 
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Summit

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I've just used Booking.com to book accommodation in Darwin, and about to use them again to book some for Adelaide and Alice Springs. Just can't imagine getting a better combination of quality and price.
 

Heinz

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I used to use Bestflights (now Helloworld) for flights. Will still look at it to compare airlines, but now then go directly to the website for appropriate airline. Have also used Expedia & booking.com at times for hotels and they are fine for major city hotels, but I often find that there are many nicer, smaller, cheaper pension type accomodations that they don't list. So I will use website for that region to contact accommodation owners directly. For Austria around ski areas I always start with www.bergfex.com (as I have often posted) then contact owners directly. For Japan I've used Japanican & Rakuten.
 

currawong

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In my limited experience within Australia it is good to use booking sites for research but contact accom places directly by phone or email. It's never cost me more, sometimes less, cancellation policies are often more flexible and you may get freebies such as parking, welcome present. You will almost certainly establish a cordial relationship with them and find them helpful.
Most recently I wanted 5 motel rooms for a motorcycle ride. After I spoke with them I got 2 apartments for about 60% of the cost for 5 rooms, nicer rooms and under cover parking for the bikes.
 

Ozgirl

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Oh for sure - 100% agree on contacting places directly.

However loving the fact that i can in essence 'hold' accommodation in case other planning falls through (ie snow doesn't come!)

But i also love that you can pre pay (on expedia for example) - if you you find a good deal through expedia for accom in and being able to pre pay - like some of us on here have expressed due to falling currency. Is a great thing.
 

sara777

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I've just used Booking.com to book accommodation in Darwin, and about to use them again to book some for Adelaide and Alice Springs. Just can't imagine getting a better combination of quality and price.
This. I use them for both domestic & international accommodation and never went wrong. Can amend/cancel booking when I like, send requests (to which they always immediately respond). Had not one bad experience and used them about 10x.
 

Apresski

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I have often used Booking.com for Europe and have found them good to deal with. Have occasionally received an upgrade to a much better room. I am booking though them now for some accommodation in Italy and France in Sept/Oct.
 
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Summit

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This. I use them for both domestic & international accommodation and never went wrong. Can amend/cancel booking when I like, send requests (to which they always immediately respond). Had not one bad experience and used them about 10x.
I've only used them a few times, but did get a good deal on quality accommodation in central Byron Bay last month. One of the things that I liked about booking the Darwin accomm yesterday was no payment up front and no penalty if you cancel more than 2 days before the date. Might have been one night's penalty if you cancel within 48 hours.

When staying on Kos, Greece last year the dodgy hotel manager wanted to cancel my booking with the online booking agent (might have been Booking.com) as though I didn't arrive, and then charge me a lesser amount....No way, I'd probably cop that penalty fine and a black mark against my name !
 
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gareth_oau

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not directly relevant, but we did our last booking through Airbnb and found that:

1. the place was actually a lot smaller than the pictures showed
2. the pictures did not even begin to show how uncomfortable the beds were.

make sure you do your research
 

Born2ski

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For flights I first start with Skyscanner and Momondo to show which airlines are providing the best fares. Then I'll check direct with the airlines. If booking direct is more expensive then I book with either -
expedia.com.au (Aussie dollars)
expedia.com (US dollars)
expedia.ie (Euro)

I like Expedia because you get confirmation of flights straight away which you can then check directly on the airline website. Also Expedia don't charge a booking fee or credit card fee.

For accommodation it depends where I'm going but often I try to book direct with owners.
 
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Ozgirl

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For flights I first start with Skyscanner and Momondo to show which airlines are providing the best fares. Then I'll check direct with the airlines. If booking direct is more expensive then I book with either -
expedia.com.au (Aussie dollars)
expedia.com (US dollars)
expedia.ie (Euro)

I like Expedia because you get confirmation of flights straight away which you can then check directly on the airline website. Also Expedia don't charge a booking fee or credit card fee.

For accommodation it depends where I'm going but often I try to book direct with owners.


Pretty much exactly my MO!

Except this trip goign direct with Singapore airlines the price was the same however Expedia lured us in with the potential of discounted hotels... no skin off our nose...

I first started using expedia for domestic flights in the US - before they had a Aus version.

So much cheaper, than buying from Aus. I remember one time my dad doing it and he was all "i need a US address..." Make one up i said.

How many times i have used '90210' LOL

ANyway nowadays the sites are much more sophisticaeed and can marry up postcode and credit card. However Expedia for example no longer cares if you book a US flight on the US site and pay with Aussie card/Address.
 

Born2ski

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ANyway nowadays the sites are much more sophisticaeed and can marry up postcode and credit card. However Expedia for example no longer cares if you book a US flight on the US site and pay with Aussie card/Address.

I've used the Irish Expedia site (expedia.ie) to book Qantas flights to the USA and I've used the US expedia site to book Jetstar flights to Japan, both times it saved us heaps compared with booking direct. Don't understand why many airlines charge more on their own websites. :confused:

Also use my Citibank Visa debit card when booking on the overseas sites because they have no foreign currency transaction fees.
 

Bluebird

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I tend to use booking.com for most accommodation bookings. I like the usability/readability of the sites and that the reviews are only written by people who have actually stayed there (well, allegedly anyway...). I get a bit annoyed with the constant pushing to book immediately - 'book now! This price won't last! Only 5 rooms left! This hotel is likely to sell out in the next 12 hours!'. I've rarely found these warnings to be accurate.

I've found it really easy to cancel accommodation through booking.com. They're good at making the 'free cancellation' dates really clear. I did get caught short recently booking somewhere with free cancellation until three days before arrival. I thought that the accommodation provider wouldn't charge anything until we arrived, but they actually charged half the cost of the booking prior to arrival. Probably should have read the fine print more clearly....LOL
 
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Budgiesmuggler

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Flights I find and then usually book through airline. I've been caught before where booking company's conditions are more onerous than ticket restrictions so you end up paying twice for changes etc.

Booking.com or sgoda are usual hotel sites.

I find that often the hotels can't match online prices and just tell you to rebook online
 

Summit

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Tend to look at them all and then contact the provider direct. A win every time.
I thought about this thread before booking accommodation in Adelaide just then, so checked the website of the provider before going back and booking it on Booking.com. $305 for 3 nights on Booking.com for a superior room. The standard room on the provider's website was $381. It was a daily special on Booking.com, good position and rated 8.5/10 on their website.

We live in an outsourcing business environment these days, and plenty of businesses have cost structures suited to it.
 
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WaitAwhile

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We have used booking.com for a number of years and used them almost exclusively on a 6 week trip to Europe a number of years ago,with the exception of places like London and Paris, we kept a little flexibility in our itinerary and didnt pre pay.
If you join as a member it will pre-save all your details and also give you a pin number for each booking so details can be easily changed ,as long as you don't leave it to late ,some hotels have different cancellation rules and we have cancelled a few and changed other dates with no issues and have never had a problem with bookings not being honoured .
For trips that only involve a couple of different hotels, we often go to the hotels direct , but for road trips and and trips that involve changing hotels every 2 or 3 nights over extended periods we use booking.com almost exclusively.
 

Ozgirl

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Oh and
We have used booking.com for a number of years and used them almost exclusively on a 6 week trip to Europe a number of years ago,with the exception of places like London and Paris, we kept a little flexibility in our itinerary and didnt pre pay.
If you join as a member it will pre-save all your details and also give you a pin number for each booking so details can be easily changed ,as long as you don't leave it to late ,some hotels have different cancellation rules and we have cancelled a few and changed other dates with no issues and have never had a problem with bookings not being honoured .
For trips that only involve a couple of different hotels, we often go to the hotels direct , but for road trips and and trips that involve changing hotels every 2 or 3 nights over extended periods we use booking.com almost exclusively.

I have a word itinerary marking our flights or trains etc... and then have a note saying when the accom has to be cancelled by - all of them are quite different.
 
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currawong

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I thought about this thread before booking accommodation in Adelaide just then, so checked the website of the provider before going back and booking it on Booking.com. $305 for 3 nights on Booking.com for a superior room. The standard room on the provider's website was $381. It was a daily special on Booking.com, good position and rated 8.5/10 on their website.

We live in an outsourcing business environment these days, and plenty of businesses have cost structures suited to it.
personally I'd probably ring and enquire, then ask if they could match the price
 

currawong

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On average my experiences when booking direct by phone or email have been better than when booking online, even through the property's own site. Eg Last time I booked online I had to cancel (did not want to travel on a code red day through fire prone area). I got a credit (which I used a few weeks ago) but no refund. If I had booked by phone they would have given me a full refund.

Also properties are usually happier to have direct bookings. Money is all theirs and less potential delays
 

Ozgirl

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On average my experiences when booking direct by phone or email have been better than when booking online, even through the property's own site. Eg Last time I booked online I had to cancel (did not want to travel on a code red day through fire prone area). I got a credit (which I used a few weeks ago) but no refund. If I had booked by phone they would have given me a full refund.

Also properties are usually happier to have direct bookings. Money is all theirs and less potential delays


It really depends on the provider.

Big chain hotels - not nesserarily so. The purpose of the engines is to access fares or offers that may not be made available to a local.

Smaller mum and pop type places... yeah for sure - cause they don't want to pay the company fees.

Somewhere like the Sheraton though - they wont give you better over the phone (cost them staffing money to have someone taking those bookings). The best is their website (so hotels like the Sheraton who guarantee their best rate is available online) - maybe... but i still think you can find better prices using booking engines.

Moral of this story is that to get the best deal you have to do a lot of leg work!
 

Crystal

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For flights I first start with Skyscanner and Momondo to show which airlines are providing the best fares. Then I'll check direct with the airlines. If booking direct is more expensive then I book with either -
expedia.com.au (Aussie dollars)
expedia.com (US dollars)
expedia.ie (Euro)

I like Expedia because you get confirmation of flights straight away which you can then check directly on the airline website. Also Expedia don't charge a booking fee or credit card fee.

For accommodation it depends where I'm going but often I try to book direct with owners.

This pretty much for us also....except have never used the alternate expedia sites. Always book accom direct with owners or when using the big chain hotels I use booking.com for comparison then ring or email direct...always get a better rate or upgrade ect.
 

marv hucker

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I thought about this thread before booking accommodation in Adelaide just then, so checked the website of the provider before going back and booking it on Booking.com. $305 for 3 nights on Booking.com for a superior room. The standard room on the provider's website was $381. It was a daily special on Booking.com, good position and rated 8.5/10 on their website.

We live in an outsourcing business environment these days, and plenty of businesses have cost structures suited to it.
More to the point (as noted up the top, the Checkout article was excellent) the various booking engines have it written in their contracts that the hotel aren't allowed to publish online any prices that beat theirs.

And all the major booking engines take about 15%

So you work it out.
 

Born2ski

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More to the point (as noted up the top, the Checkout article was excellent) the various booking engines have it written in their contracts that the hotel aren't allowed to publish online any prices that beat theirs.

And all the major booking engines take about 15%

So you work it out.
The way some of the hotels get around that is by having you join their "club" and then offering special member rates.
 
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Summit

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More to the point (as noted up the top, the Checkout article was excellent) the various booking engines have it written in their contracts that the hotel aren't allowed to publish online any prices that beat theirs.

And all the major booking engines take about 15%

So you work it out.
So you reckon if I had of rang the hotel and said I can get a $305 deal for 3 nights on a superior room through Booking.com. I know they take 15%, so what say you give me a 10% discount on that rate and we've got a deal ! and then have some leeway to let them haggle me down to only a 5% discount LOL I've never been to Bali...haggling's not really for me...Oops, forgot to factor in the cost of the telephone call...and whether or not I could be bothered !
 
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currawong

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So you reckon if I had of rang the hotel and said I can get a $305 deal for 3 nights on a superior room through Booking.com. I know they take 15%, so what say you give me a 10% discount on that rate and we've got a deal ! and then have some leeway to let them haggle me down to only a 5% discount LOL I've never been to Bali...haggling's not really for me...Oops, forgot to factor in the cost of the telephone call...and whether or not I could be bothered !
I'm not a haggler either but it's not hard to mention that you've seen a better rate advertised. If they don't offer to match then nicely say "thanks, I'll book online"
 

Summit

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I'm not a haggler either but it's not hard to mention that you've seen a better rate advertised. If they don't offer to match then nicely say "thanks, I'll book online"
But if you do that and they do match the Booking.com price you're disadvantaging the business that was the sole reason you found the great deal, with no price advantage to yourself...and it's part of the provider's cost structure to pay a commission to another business who found the customer.
 

marv hucker

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But if you do that and they do match the Booking.com price you're disadvantaging the business that was the sole reason you found the great deal, with no price advantage to yourself...and it's part of the provider's cost structure to pay a commission to another business who found the customer.
Eh.
They're a commission based agent. They don't produce or create or deliver anything.
Could not care less about them.
 

currawong

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But if you do that and they do match the Booking.com price you're disadvantaging the business that was the sole reason you found the great deal, with no price advantage to yourself...and it's part of the provider's cost structure to pay a commission to another business who found the customer.
So I'm obliged to buy through the first site that has the deal? What if 3 sites have the deal? What is the difference between looking at another site and directly asking the property what they can do?

I'm normally sympathetic to giving my business to the shop that gives me good service. I don't think that translates clearly in this case. I think that the best service is more likely to come through going direct. Eg the example I gave earlier of getting 2 apartments and under cover parking instead of the 5 motel rooms I thought I needed
 

Summit

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So I'm obliged to buy through the first site that has the deal? What if 3 sites have the deal? What is the difference between looking at another site and directly asking the property what they can do?

I'm normally sympathetic to giving my business to the shop that gives me good service. I don't think that translates clearly in this case. I think that the best service is more likely to come through going direct. Eg the example I gave earlier of getting 2 apartments and under cover parking instead of the 5 motel rooms I thought I needed
I thought we were talking about my example...in which case calling the provider is silly !
 

marv hucker

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I can, they provide a great service that I want to continue !
They rake in 15% of half the hotel bookings in the Western world for having some computer servers shuffle some numbers & data around, and since they're all owned by 2 or 3 companies they're barely competing against anything.
They're not going anywhere, any time soon. Hugely, hugely profitable I imagine.
 

Summit

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They rake in 15% of half the hotel bookings in the Western world for having some computer servers shuffle some numbers & data around, and since they're all owned by 2 or 3 companies they're barely competing against anything.
They're not going anywhere, any time soon. Hugely, hugely profitable I imagine.
So hugely profitable when doing next to nothing with virtually no competition...really ! Very strange that arms length competitors don't start up if that is the environment !
 

marv hucker

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So hugely profitable when doing next to nothing with virtually no competition...really ! Very strange that arms length competitors don't start up if that is the environment !
Oh, heaps of sites have started up.
Wotif, hotels, expedia, hotelscombined, trivago, bookings.com, yada yada yada.
All get gobbled up.
 

currawong

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I thought we were talking about my example...in which case calling the provider is silly !
I didn't say you had to do it, just that I would. If it's silly to make personal contact with real people and increasing profits of little guys rather than big companies, then I'm happy to play the fool
 
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Summit

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Ok, I'm wrong. We should all use the great information service provided by Online booking websites and then stitch them upLOL
 
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Summit

Old n' Crusty
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Actually, I have stitched up an employment agency business. They were keeping 35% when I was doing contract work in the early 90's in Sydney. After about 6 months of putting up with this I went to see the CEO of the Company I was contracted to and said what say we both tell the agency the contract is over, I go to the US for a couple of months, and when I come back you and I do business, eliminate the middle man who has already earned well and truly enough when you consider they only deserved a spotters fee. The CEO agreed to this and it worked well. Tried the same thing a couple of years later when back in Perth and nearly got run out of town LOL
 

Summit

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I'd be comfortable with going direct to the accommodation provider the second time I used them.
 

currawong

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Actually, I have stitched up an employment agency business. They were keeping 35% when I was doing contract work in the early 90's in Sydney. After about 6 months of putting up with this I went to see the CEO of the Company I was contracted to and said what say we both tell the agency the contract is over, I go to the US for a couple of months, and when I come back you and I do business, eliminate the middle man who has already earned well and truly enough when you consider they only deserved a spotters fee. The CEO agreed to this and it worked well. Tried the same thing a couple of years later when back in Perth and nearly got run out of town LOL
I could never see why there was so much angst about contract agency fees. I employed a lot of contractors and eventually was one myself. As a contractor what mattered was what I got paid. I really couldn't care if the agency made a nice cut on top. What was important was the reputation of agencies. As a customer I only trusted a couple of companies to only put up quality candidates who were a good fit for the roles we needed. when i went contracting they were the only ones i gave my resume to
 

Summit

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I could never see why there was so much angst about contract agency fees. I employed a lot of contractors and eventually was one myself. As a contractor what mattered was what I got paid. I really couldn't care if the agency made a nice cut on top. What was important was the reputation of agencies. As a customer I only trusted a couple of companies to only put up quality candidates who were a good fit for the roles we needed. when i went contracting they were the only ones i gave my resume to
The agency was making more than a nice cut and I wasn't getting paid enough.
 
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D64133

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I've just used Booking.com to book accommodation in Darwin, and about to use them again to book some for Adelaide and Alice Springs. Just can't imagine getting a better combination of quality and price.
so what time of year you planning on arriving in Darwin ? its slightly warm at the moment.
 
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