My experience with booking.com
If you are planning to travel on a budget, it is always advisable to book flight and accommodation in advance. However, not many providers will give you the much-anticipated discounts when you really need them. So, last year we were planning a holiday and were lucky enough to get a discount on our Emirates flight. We bought our November ticket at the beginning of the year.
However, when the time came for us to look for accommodation, the travel agents I contacted for friendly Dubai packages did not give us reasonable prices at all. We would have spent 60,000-120,000 on accommodation alone. It was a ridiculous amount that was way above our budget. That is when I started searching online. I googled and signed up on various apps, including Booking.com which seemed to be consistently cheaper on all dates. Once in Dubai, I tried to inquire about hotel rates as walk-in clients and the rates were almost double what was listed online! We ended up spending only 15,000 on accommodation.
See below some hotel rates in Dubai:
Is booking.com credible?
Booking.com is one of the hotel booking apps in the world. Founded in 1966 as a Dutch travel e-commerce, the platform has quickly spread to 70 countries. Currently, over 28,976,786 properties have been listed on the platform. These include B&B, vacation homes, apartments, luxury resorts among others.
I first interacted with Booking.com a couple of years ago while searching for a job as a Content Partner. I, however, did not make it after two trials. After these missed employment opportunities, I discovered it was a credible company and started checking the properties listed.
In 2018 I decided to use the website to find holiday accommodation in Dubai. I found several and when I got there, the hotels were exactly as advertised. Later I booked my husband and his colleague hotels during a business trip and they loved the experience.
Using the booking app has taught me a few things that I would like to share with you:
How to use booking.com to get cheap hotel rates
In its marketing material, booking.com boasts of providing the lowest property rates in the market. One of the messages you will see during the booking process is, “Find cheaper? We’ll refund the difference.” I have booked rooms on this app that were up to three times cheaper than the rates displayed on the hotel reception desk. If you are planning a vacation, it is advisable to make an online reservation on booking then call the property to ask how much they are charging.
Browse for discounts and holiday deals on booking.com
As a user of booking.com, you qualify for discounts all the time. There is a 10 percent off for the app’s ‘Genius’ loyalty program and off-peak discounts that run from time to time. For instance, the current discount for off-peak stays stands at 20 percent.
Use filters to find the best property for your trip
Whether you are traveling for work, holiday or business, you need to ensure that your room has the necessary facilities to support your trip. In hot places, you may find that there is no hot shower, blanket, and towels. If you are driving there, you may require some parking space. If on holiday, you may need meals provided. When traveling with a baby or on budget, you may need self-catering services.
Use Booking filters such as breakfast, private bathroom, wifi, parking space, distance from city centre and other attractions/landmarks, availability, discounts, staff, reservation policy (there are rooms with free cancellation, while others give you the option to book without credit card), meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, self-catering etc), stay type (hotels, apartments, hostels shared, unique/outdoors), property type (homestays, hotels, apartments, bread and breakfast, guest house, holiday home, villa, lodge, hostel), landmarks, bed preference (double, twin), review score, facilities, room facilities, chain (eg Hilton, four points etc), facilities for disabled guests, and room accessibility. These requirements vary from traveler to traveler, so take your time to check what you need. If you need help finding the best room for your stay, get in touch and we shall assist free of charge.
Check the house rules
Every property has its own house rules. Some properties have flexible check-in and check-out times, while others have fixed times. The best thing with Booking is that they allow you to determine your check-in and check-out times, and probably make prior arrangments for extra time free of charge or for a small fee. Properties also have different pet rules, children rules and party rules. Ensure that you check the fine print to avoid problems.
Read Also: Holiday travel: How to find cheap flights
Read guest reviews
Booking.com only gets reviews from stayed guests, so all reviews are real. You can read reviews by topic, rating, facilities or traveler type. Again, reviews can help you know how clean, safe, quiet, comfortable a place is by reading reviews. If wifi is a basic requirement during your trip, read both positive and negative reviews about wifi. If you need breakfast, ensure that you know what kind of breakfast is served, see the pictures if available and what other guests think about it. this will give you a general overview of what to expect while there.
Cleanliness is also another key thing to look for because some properties have bugs and guests never fail to make a note of them when writing reviews. If you have identified several properties and need help checking which one has the best reviews, you can send them to us and we shall help you get the highest rated depending on your priority list.
Finally, view the property photos to see how the place looks like, including the state of the room, bathroom, television, reception, compound, and room fittings.
During a phone interview with someone at Booking.com, I gathered the following information:
Question: Since Booking gives people the opportunity to book in advance without paying, are there instances where someone can stay in a hotel and pay while leaving?
Answer: That depends on the property. Different properties have different rules. You can talk to the property and see if they allow you to pay during check-out.
Question: What happens if someone stays and fails to pay?
Answer: That depends on the property. So far, we have not received any complaints from the properties listed but each has a different approach to solving such disputes.
Question: I saw on the Booking reviews that some people were given a different rate than the one they saw on booking.com. How does Booking prevent this?
Answer: It is good to reserve a room immediately. When you arrive, give the hotel your Booking confirmation code. You also need to read the fine print to see the extra charges such as city tax.
Question: Is it possible for someone to pay for accommodation advance?
Answer: Yes, paying in advance ensures that your booking is confirmed. However, advance payment depends on the hotel payment policy.