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Should I use booking.com, airbnb or any site like that? Why should I? Are there any advantages?

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Anything? Just accommodation? Don't ask subjectively. You should use the one that's best for the environment or supports some local charity. Please ask more than one line if you want an answer of more than one line. –  hippietrail Sep 24 '13 at 8:00
    
This is a nice post in an interesting line of content.Thanks for sharing this article, great way of bring such topic to discussion. –  user12251 Mar 14 at 10:37
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2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

The only major advantage is price: it's not uncommon for a third-party site to have better prices than those offered directly by the hotel. That said, major chains are increasingly offering best-price guarantees, although these usually only mean that you can claim the difference if you spot it, not that they're actually always the cheapest option.

Minor advantages include:

  1. A faster booking process if you're a repeat customer and they already have your details on file.
  2. The infrastructure behind a site like booking.com is rock solid, meaning very reliable booking and payment processes. Little independent hotels have to cobble together their own, so things can and do go wrong, eg. filling out their 16-page booking form and then getting an error on the last page because it doesn't like your credit card or something.
  3. Some chance of getting your money back if the hotel goes bankrupt or something before your stay. (That said, any halfway decent credit card will let you dispute the charge in this case even if you book directly.)

But all that said, I still book directly through the hotel if I can. Your reservation is less likely to get lost, you may get better rooms and more perks, making changes to your booking is easier, and you'll get points if you belong to the hotel chain's frequent traveller program.

Also, Airbnb is (supposed to be) for person-to-person short stay rentals, not regular hotels. For most of the properties listed there, Airbnb is the only option for booking.

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+1 for booking directly being the best option at the end of the day. Unless a third party site is giving you a radically better deal, the advantages of direct booking (especially for a frequent traveller who can make use of loyalty program perks or points) are worth so much. Being able to cancel right up to the day of the reservation without a second thought alone is worth it's weight in gold. –  LessPop_MoreFizz Sep 24 '13 at 5:01
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and quite often the "better price" gets cancelled out by all the myriad and often hidden (until you've already filled out everything and get to see the final price) "service fees" and other crap that the booking sites add, and which is their main source of income. Having worked for one such for a while, it's usually cheaper but less convenient (in that searching for a hotel can take longer, having to visit multiple sites) booking at the hotel directly. –  jwenting Sep 24 '13 at 5:29
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@Grzenio I have worked front desk at many hotels for many and the ONLY third party booking company that passes the guest CC is Booking.com. Everyone else has a hidden rate meaning we are not shown what the guest is charged. We get the third party CC or they are direct billed for the rate negotiated. As far as the best-price guarantees, these are because those hotels have a contract with the third parties that they are not allowed to go below the hotel's rate. Sometimes these third parties break the contract and try to get away with it. When the hotel find out, they are heavily penalized. –  Makai Sep 25 '13 at 19:05
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Also working at the hotel, we generally give better rooms & more perks to guest that book through us. Some hotels have the 100% satisfaction promise, but this does not apply to those that book through third party. You have to fight them for it. Also many hotels that have rewards programs will not apply them to reservations booked by a third party. If you need to cancel, it is much easier if through the hotel. Some hotels are very flexible about cancellation time if booked through the hotel. Also you know you are getting more accurate information about the hotel if you are talking to the hotel. –  Makai Sep 25 '13 at 19:15
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I think there is another major advantage: Using booking.com you are able to get a very quick overview about a lot of different hotels that are available at a location. Furthermore, booking.com has it's own loyalty program. –  RoflcoptrException Mar 14 at 10:42
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I use both depending on the situation.

When I use an aggregator it is only booking.com and airbnb. Outside these two I book directly through the primary site.

Booking.com has three features I like very much.

  1. Often you can cancel your reservation without cost up until 24hours before arrival. This is especially interesting if you would like to wait for a better airfare or don't know the arrival date yet in detail. In the latter you just make multiple bookings for different dates to secure an interesting fare.
  2. Your credit card is only charged in case you don't show.
  3. Hotels sometimes use Booking.com to dump empty rooms, which means that you can get some great quotes if you need a hotel immediately.

I use airbnb for personal holidays with the family. Usually hotels and hostels are quite costly if you need accommodation for a family trip.

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