If you’re ever arranging your own accommodation, then it’s pretty likely that you’re going to come across Booking.com at some point. Vast numbers of people from across the planet make hotel bookings via the platform on a daily basis.
In fact when you search for a hotel – or even self-catering accommodation – Booking.com listings often show up near or at the top of the first page on Google. This is one huge provider of hotels, motels, vacation rentals, and more.
When you’ve never used Booking.com before, though, the first thing you’re going to want to know is – is Booking.com safe to use?
How Safe Is Booking.Com To Use?
If you book a hotel room via the site, is that reservation guaranteed? Is your money safe? What about the cancellation fee, should your plans change?
How about the fine print, and are there any hidden fees to watch out for? Do they offer great customer service – or the worst customer service in the world?
If you’re considering using Booking.com for your next trip, how does this compare to other booking sites? Will they offer the lowest price? What about free cancellation?
For the answers to all these questions plus many more, read on. We’ll cover everything you need to know about Booking.com, including company facts and what they offer.
Also detailed is the Booking.com booking process and their price match guarantee. We also run through the pros and cons of using this accommodation provider – and compare it to their competitors.
We’ll even go through how travel bloggers can make money by sending their readers to Booking.com. Plus some examples of media stories about the site.
For the full, no holds barred lowdown on one of the hospitality industry’s biggest booking platforms, stay right here!
Booking.com was formed in Amsterdam, the capital of The Netherlands, in 1996. What began as a little Dutch start-up has since grown into one of the biggest digital travel companies globally.
Booking Holdings Inc.
Booking Holdings Incorporated is Booking.com’s parent company. As well as Booking.com, Booking Holdings Inc owns household names such as Agoda, CheapFlights, HotelsCombined, Kayak, OpenTable, Priceline, and Rentalcars.com.
So even if you book via Agoda or HotelsCombined, you’re effectively booking through the same company.
The current CEO and Director of Booking Holdings Inc are Glenn D. Fogel, who has been in the role since 2017.He initially joined the company in 2000 and has since held the positions of Executive Vice President for Corporate Development and Head of Worldwide Strategy and Planning.
Glenn D. Fogel is also the brand leader forBooking.com. Other sites belonging to Booking Holdings – like Kayak, Agoda, and OpenTable – have their own CEOs and brand leaders.
Booking Holdings Inc is based in Norwalk, Connecticut, USA. The city lies by Long Island Sound and is located southwest of Connecticut.
Connecticut is the most southerly state in New England, and Norwalk belongs to the New York metropolitan area.
Though the offices are in the US, Booking.com is actually incorporated under Netherlands law.
What Booking.com Offers
Booking.com offers close to 30 million accommodation listings. Over 6 million of these are not hotels, but apartments, houses, and other places to stay.
Customers who speak any one of the 43 languages Booking.com operates in can use the platform. According to the company website, Booking.com aims to make securing accommodation simple.
At the same time, property owners from all over the globe can make money. This is because their accommodation reaches a worldwide audience.
In fact, Booking.com offers a lot more than just hotel rooms. Products and services that can be obtained via the platform include airport taxis and car rentals. Plus attraction tickets and even flights.
Clearly, Booking.com’s aim is to be a one-stop shop for reserving a hotel, checking out rental cars, securing airport taxis, and much more.
Booking.com And Service Providers
When you use Booking.com, you can compare hotels and other forms of accommodation easily. If you book via a property listing, you then enter a contract with the accommodation provider (unless another arrangement is specifically stated).
These providers in turn have a contractual relationship with Booking.com. The platform doesn’t own any of the properties. Each simply works with the other to their own advantage.
The service provider pays Booking.com a commission for each reservation. This property owner or other service provider may offer other products that aren’t listed on Booking.com.
It all depends on the agreement between the platform and each provider.
Searching On Booking.com
When you’re interested in looking for accommodation or other travel services on Booking.com, it’s good to be aware of how the search process works.
On the homepage, you can enter where you want to go. You can add the dates and how many people are traveling if you want to.
The search results will then show up. By default, these are shown according to the platform’s ‘top picks’. How Booking.com determines what shows at the top is influenced by a number of factors.
These include how many people click on the listing and how many go ahead and book accommodation. A ranking may also reflect the relationship betweenBooking.com and the provider.
So factors like how much commission is made and how reliably the property pays Booking.com can have some bearing.
How many people actually click on and book property is also likely to be affected by factors like its review score, what guest reviews say, whether they offer competitive prices, and so on.
Other Search Options
You don’t have to view the properties as Booking.com presents them. Alternatively, you can choose to alter the search to suit you. This can make your results much more user-friendly.
There’s a bar plus a drop-down menu at the top of the search results page. This allows to you alter your results so they’re no longer shown as ‘top picks’.
Other options – depending on your destination – may include the price, the star rating, the distance from the city center, beach, or landmark, or the top review score. You can also see apartments and houses first if you want to.
In some ways, this is booking.com’s best feature. It’s not available on all other websites, and seeing all the options at a glance plus the online reviews for each makes life easy.
This can be much quicker than comparing and making a reservation directly.
So how are booking.com prices set? The prices are set by each service provider. They may, however, be affected by a benefit or reward financed by the platform.
Do check the full price description. Here you can find out whether any additional charges or taxes are included or not.
You should also be able to see the additional costs of any optional extras clearly displayed during the booking process.
The Booking.com Booking Process
Once you decide to make a booking, you will of course be wondering how you’ll pay for this. The answer depends on booking.com’s agreement with that provider.
For you, it means one of two things. You’ll either pay upfront, or you’ll be charged by the accommodation after arrival.
Booking.com Cancellation Policy
Again, the fee charged for cancellation or no-show is set by each provider. Not by Booking.com. Your entitlement to a full or partial refund thus depends on their specific policy.
Do check the applicable cancellation policy carefully at the time of booking. This way you’ll know what you can do if your plans do change.
Booking.com Terms And Conditions
Booking.com lays out a number of terms and conditions. There are general Ts & Cs for what they call ‘all travel experiences’.
Plus there are separate terms and conditions for accommodation, car rentals, attractions, and flights. There’s also a category for public and private transport.
The Booking.com Price Match Guarantee
Booking.com does offer a price match guarantee. This is meant to cover customers who find cheaper options on other travel sites.
If you do find a cheaper price, you need to let booking.com know 24 hours or more before your check-in date. You must provide a live link, and when they check the hotel or other prices should be available for reservation.
Before requesting a price match, do check that the booking matches perfectly. It must be for the exact same dates and accommodation type.
The same conditions and cancellation policy must also apply.
There are exclusions too. Booking.com will not price match when the offer is part of a rewards or loyalty program. Anything labeled as one of their Partner Offers is also excluded.
Booking.com will also refuse to play ball when the type of accommodation remains secret until after you’ve booked it.
Pros Of Booking.com
Here are some of the plus points associated with using Booking.com. Firstly there’s a quick-fire list before we move on to cover each point in more depth.
- Wide range of accommodation
- Clear and complete listings
- Saves time
- Price match guarantee
- Good discounts
- Reliable site
- Tailored searching
A Large Range Of Accommodation
Booking.com does offer a very broad range of accommodation. It’s what the platform specializes in and is best known for.
Whether you want a hotel, a self-catering apartment, a motel, a bed, and breakfast, or even a dorm bed in a hostel, you should be able to find it onBooking.com.
Clear And Detailed Listings
Once you click on that hotel or apartment you’re interested in, there’s lots of information available to you. Navigation is easy, as the page is set up to be user-friendly.
With just one click you can access a map, a selection of pictures, read a range of reviews, see the key features at a glance – and more.
There are tabs to click on for the fine print, facilities, ‘house rules,’ and information and pricing. You can also scroll down the page to ‘hotel surroundings’, restaurant details, and FAQs.
A Time Saver
Using Booking.com, therefore, has the potential to save you heaps of time. You can compare hotel rooms and other accommodation quickly.
It’s also possible to add on car rental, attraction tickets, transport, and even flights. If you lead a busy life, using an all-in-one platform like this can make travel planning quick and easy.
Price Match Guarantee
There is a price match guarantee in place. This means you may be able to get a refund for the difference if you do find exactly the same deal cheaper elsewhere.
Though the prices you’ll see on the Booking.com site are set by the provider, the company may fund special deals in some cases. This is to ensure they stay ahead in a competitive market.
In this case, you may even pay less than booking with the hotel directly. Getting your room cheaper is always a bonus, as it gives your more money to spend on other things.
Booking.com is firmly established and is a reliable platform. They’re not going to disappear overnight, running off with your money.
Which is always a risk when making a direct booking with a small, unknown provider.
Reputation can be everything when it comes to running a big organization like this one. So you can be sure that Booking.com will do everything in its power to maintain a good reputation.
If they weren’t seen as reliable, no one would book with them! It really can be as simple as that.
Various Ways To Search
Being able to search just as you please is a big bonus. This can be a real-time saver and saves sifting through properties that may be of no interest to you.
You can sort your Booking.com search results according to factors such as star rating, price, average review scores, or the distance from the city center or a landmark.
You may also place self-catering properties at the top of the list if you want to. This makes it a real contender against sites like Airbnb or VRBO.
Cons of Booking.com
Booking.com or Booking.com? Here are some of the negatives to bear in mind.
- Hotel may not use Booking.com
- Badly-written descriptions
- Ts & Cs and cancellation policies vary
- Fake reviews
- Third-party bookings
Not All Accommodations Use The Platform
Though Booking.com offers a wide range of accommodation options, there are hotels you won’t find listed there. This is because the property owner and the platform don’t have an agreement in place.
This means you could miss out on some of the accommodation choices that are available at your destination. And in some cases, they might actually be the best one for you.
Poorly-Written Product Descriptions
Though they’re detailed and can give you an in-depth look at each option, Booking.com’s description can sometimes be lacking. In some cases or in parts, they read as if they’ve been AI-generated.
While some descriptions roll off the tongue nicely, others could do with a bit of a polish. It’s a shame because we’ve seen this apply to luxury five-star properties as much as budget places.
Ts & Cs And Cancellation Policy Varies
With different terms and conditions for each type of product plus one set covering everything, it can be tricky to know where you stand.
The cancellation policy is also set by the hotel or other product provider rather than Booking.com. This means you need to read that fine print in each individual case.
Rather than knowing what rules apply to every single component of your travel plans.
Fake Reviews Do Exist
Among all the reviews for each hotel, service, or product, you can pretty much guarantee that there will be some fake ones in there.
As much as the travel industry tries to weed these out, they will slip in. Perhaps when working on behalf of a competitor.
This is not exclusive to Booking.com – it’s an industry-wide issue. Wherever you book, make sure to read a selection of reviews, rather than just one, for all the hotels you like the look of.
This should give you a more balanced view.
Booking.com Is A Third Party
Good reviews or bad, there’s not actually too much Booking.com can do about them. This is because they are only acting as a third party.
Booking.com don’t own accommodation. They simply market it on behalf of the owner.
Whether it’s new accommodation or a hotel with a great reputation, the owner is the only one who can clean it, give it a lick of paint or sort out those staff who offer substandard service.
Generally speaking, Booking.com doesn’t set prices or decide on the cancellation policy. That’s all down to each individual establishment.
Booking.com Vs Other Hotel Booking Sites
So how does Booking.com measure up against other ways of booking hotels? Such as other accommodation booking sites?
A lot of it comes down to whether or not you find the site user-friendly. As well as whether you can find lower prices, a free upgrade or other deal-breakers elsewhere.
If you’re about to take the plunge on Booking.com, pause for just a moment. Even if you only have time to check the price via one other provider – let’s say Expedia, for example – this will give you peace of mind that you’re getting the best deal.
It can also be worth checking with the hotel, car rental company, attraction, or airline directly. If you have just a few minutes to spare, this can confirm in each case whether booking.com is offering you the best possible deal.
Booking.com in the Media
Here are a few recent news stories to give you a flavor of what’s really going on at Booking.com.
Booking.Com Clinches Ad Of The Week
More About Advertising made a campaign for Booking.com their ad of the week in July 2022. The full two-minute ad has a soccer focus and is centered on the idea of traveling to watch a women’s football tournament in Europe.
It does, of course, end with the trademark ‘Booking.yeah’.
Booking.com Keeps Up The Momentum
Skift reported in July 2022 that Booking.com has made recent gains. This is as compared to rivals like Airbnb and Expedia.
Both of those companies saw their gains slow down during June 2022.
Booking.com Looks North
In the UK, Booking.com is relocating its HQ to the northern city of Manchester. The move is scheduled for late 2022, and the company has pledged to invest £100 million (about $120million) in the city for over a decade.
This was reported by Prolific North in July 2022.
Booking.com Fails Forbes
A Forbes reporter writing in 2022 told the tale of his experience. He and some pals found a ‘too good to be true’ kinda price via Booking.com for a hotel in Turkey.
The platform then canceled the reservation, citing a ‘mistake rate’. A pricing error, in other words.
In the end, the hotel itself decided to honor the rate directly with the customers concerned.
The Booking.com Affiliate Program
Did you know that many travel bloggers who recommend Booking.com will be paid a commission if you click their links before making a booking?
The Booking.com affiliate program earns those who promote the platform a cut. It’s like how Booking.com earn a cut from the hotel when someone reserves a room via the site.
If the blog or other website leads directly to a reservation being made, the source will receive a commission for sending them in that direction.
This is one of the ways in which travel bloggers and influencers make money. If you read a ‘best places to stay in X’ kind of article in the future and click one of the links within it, then you could be making money for somebody somewhere!
Interested website owners can apply directly to Booking.com’s affiliate program, or can join via a platform like Travel Payouts, a network for travel affiliates.
Is Booking.com A Reputable Site?
Booking.com is indeed reputable and reliable. It’s one of the largest accommodation platforms in the travel industry.
Millions of hotel rooms and other accommodations are offered via Booking.com, and the company is firmly established. Their experience makes them very able to deal with huge numbers of bookings while offering great customer service 24/7.
Does Booking.com Guarantee A Room?
Believe it or not, booking a hotel or any kind of accommodation really comes down to trust. Whoever you reserve a room with, you have to trust that the hotel chain, property owner, or booking platform will honor that reservation.
As Booking.com doesn’t own accommodation, they simply act as a third party. If the reservation isn’t honored, then that is the fault of the hotel owner rather than the platform itself.
Can You Be Scammed On Booking.com?
Booking.com is not a scam site. It’s a reputable brand that is, overall, a reliable way to book accommodation.
However, the provision of a hotel room or other service is the responsibility of the Booking.com partner. Not the site itself.
To avoid potential problems, always read every word of the small print. Booking.com says that any extra taxes or charges will be clearly shown at the point of booking, so look out for these.
In rare cases, rooms may be canceled at the last minute. This can occur however you make a reservation, however. Such as when booking directly.
Does Booking.Com Offer Free Cancellation?
Whether a room reserved via Booking.com can be canceled for free depends on a couple of factors. One is the date. Different properties will have different time frames.
As accommodation providers set their own cancellation policies, the answer all depends on where you’d be staying and that property or chain’s own policy.
Is It Safe To Book A Hotel Through Booking.com?
Reserving a hotel room via Booking.com is as safe as it’s going to get anywhere. Whether you book direct or via a platform, there is always a small risk of your booking being canceled.
When this happens, it’s down to the property itself.
With Booking.com there is a customer service team available 24/7, so they should be able to help you resolve any issues.
Hotel Reservations Via Booking.com – Final Thoughts
When you want to book a hotel room, Booking.com is as reliable as any other established provider.
The pros of using the platform include its price match guarantee, clear listings, a good range of accommodation, reliability, and saving time. Sometimes exclusive discounts may also be available.
Booking.com isn’t perfect. Pitfalls of using the site include poorly-written content, fake reviews, and the fact that you’re reserving via a third party.
This means terms and conditions and cancellation policies can vary widely.
In short, Booking.com is acting only as an agent. If you find a dirty, tiny room when you arrive or there’s a mix-up, it’s really up to the hotel to sort it out with you directly.
Having said that, the Booking.com website clearly states that they have its own customer service team. Who are available 24/7.
Booking.com are currently outperforming some major rivals and is investing heavily in the future.
If you find what you want on Booking.com at a good price, then we say go for it. Just make sure you read the small print very carefully so you know exactly what you’re paying for.
As well as where you might stand in the event of a dispute!