When planning a holiday, there is one thing you are generally spoilt for choice with and that is hotels. Trying to select which one and deciding whether to book via booking.com or direct is often the hardest decision.
- Which will provide the best value for money and flexibility in the event you need to cancel?
- Which method will allow you to pay upon check-in?
- If I don’t book direct can I use my hotel chain loyalty points?
This blog will look a little deeper into these frequently asked questions and answer the question is it better to book with booking.com or direct?
Best value for money
Truth be told, the best value for money is really what you consider to be valuable in a hotel stay. Some travellers don’t care for buffet breakfasts or dining vouchers as they like to conduct these activities offsite, so booking a room-only offer is going to be best for them. On the flip side, there are travellers that love an all-inclusive stay with breakfast, dinner, or perhaps an activity. The key is working out what kind of traveller you are before you commence your research.
If you are looking for a more inclusive offering you will often find that booking directly with the hotel will provide you with a greater variety of package choices. These will often be seasonal, based on occupancy, or tie in with ‘hallmark’ dates, such as Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or alike. These packages will be exclusive for direct bookings and have the added bonus for you to accrue or redeem with loyalty points should you be a member of the hotel chain.
For those that simply want a bed in an idyllic location with preferred amenities, then shopping around on a site like Booking.com can be perfect for you. It provides a multitude of choices in a one-stop shop where you can compare and select what you deem to be the best value for your money.
We can all agree that in the last 2 years, taking a holiday has been like trying to win the lotto and flexibility is a must. Despite the burden on hoteliers, they have been very accommodating and flexible cancelations extended on many of their packages.
Whether you book direct or via Booking.com it is up to you as the booker to be vigilant in reading what you are booking. Both options provide you flexibility as long as you book the correct package.
On Booking.com you will see the wording – FREE cancellation, no prepayment required. Make sure you take note of when the FREE cancellation expires as it will generally be 24-48 hours prior to your check-in time. It is also important to note that if you do need to cancel you must cancel via Booking.com. You will not be able to cancel via the hotel as Booking.com holds your reservation. The rule of thumb is you must deal with the same company you booked via.
When booking direct, the wording may vary from hotel to hotel, so read carefully. Often you are looking for a ‘Flexible Rate’ package which will outline the date and time you have to make your cancelation. Payment will not be due until check-in.
It is important to note that flexibility comes at a cost and generally won’t be the cheapest option. You are paying for the convenience. To receive the cheapest possible rate, you will always need to book a pre-paid non-refundable package.
Pay on check-in
Both booking.com and direct will provide you the convenience of paying upon check-in as long as you book a package that is flexible or that clearly states no prepayment required. Should you book a flexible package that allows for free cancellation, but still requires a full payment, rest assured you will receive a refund as long as you cancel within the cancelation policy.
For those that love rewards points and are members of loyalty programs, you will know that booking direct is often always the only way to accrue and redeem rewards points. Programs like these are exclusive to the hotel or chain and are a means to encourage direct bookings and brand loyalty. This is where the likes of booking.com are not the booking method of choice.
Is Booking.com or direct better?
- Both are secure ways to book
- Both offer rate packages with free cancellation
- Both offer the option to pay on check-in
Both options also come with pros and cons such as:
Booking.com – Pro
- They have their own loyalty program with ‘genius’ discounts the more you book
- You can filter and narrow your hotel seacrch all in the one spot
- Compare rates of other hotels on one screen
- The ability to read associated guest reviews
Booking.com – Con
- Hotel information may not always be up to date.
- They are an online business model. Not ideal for those that prefer customer service over the phone.
- You won’t be able to earn hotel loyalty reward points
- Not all hotel package deals will be made available to Booking.com
Direct – Pro
- Special requests have more of a chance to be approved
- Where hotels operationally need to upgrade, they will often be granted to direct and loyal customers
- You have the option of over the phone and online service
- Loyalty rewards can be accured and redeemed where applicable
Direct – Con
- You may miss other competitive deals if you have not shopped around
- Not all hotels are guaranteed to price match, however make sure you always ask
- Not all hotel websites as created equal, so the booking experience may not be as seemless
What will determine what is best for you will depend on what kind of traveller you are?