I've booked a standard room in a hotel with booking.com for early March a month in advance for the price of X. This booking is cancellation free until my arrival. Today I've noticed that the very same room is available for those dates 15% cheaper, and that for X I could book now a superior room for these dates. Of course, I can book it now, and then cancel my previous booking - but is that a fine behavior, and perhaps there's a "cleaner" way to handle this? For example, perhaps I should just contact them directly?

  • 2
    The lower price suggests it has more vacancies than expected, and a cleaner way would be to contact it directly, asking for either the lower-priced room, or for the superior room at the price you expected to pay. – Giorgio Feb 26 '17 at 14:28
  • 6
    @Dorothy it might be more work for the hotel to change the booking and there's a chance the request will fail to be recorded properly. A new booking on Booking.com is easier for both sides. – JonathanReez Feb 26 '17 at 15:33
  • 2
    @Dorothy that's what I did, in terms of order of booking. The new one is still cancellation free. Don't see how contacting the hotel may increase my chances of ending up in a royal suite though – Ilya Feb 26 '17 at 16:25
  • 3
    @Ilya Dorothy's suggestion speaks to being rewarded for being human. Rather than the impersonal digital cancellation, the warm and thoughtful actual person; a communication style going "the way of the buffalo." – M.Mat Feb 26 '17 at 17:41
  • 2
    Just as a side note: There was an award-winning startup in Germany for exactly that scenario. You order a room through their website and pay the actual price. Whenever your room got cheaper the system automatically reordered a new booking and canceled the old one. And you get a payback of the price difference. At the end you are guaranteed to always get the lowest price between your first order and the last moment where free cancelation is possible. – Fabian Barney Feb 27 '17 at 15:17
up vote 50 down vote accepted

Let's take a look at the facts:

  1. You've signed a (virtual) contract with the hotel stipulating that you are free to cancel your stay for any reason

  2. The hotel now has an offer to book a room for a better price

Given the circumstances I'd say there's nothing illegal/immoral in going for their offer and getting a better deal. It's not your fault if they suddenly lower their prices.

  • 2
    I have done that before, multiple times, nobody ever cared or even mentioned it. No worries. They will probably not even realize it. – Aganju Feb 26 '17 at 19:57
  • 1
    Actually the OP has a contract with booking.com and it is booking.com that is offering the lower price to sell off its block. The big OTAs like booking.com contract for XX rooms each day and guarantee payment for that block. They don't want to eat the unsold rooms so they discount them big time, just before the dropdead date. – user13044 Feb 26 '17 at 20:37
  • 3
    @Tom AFAIK Booking.com doesn't contract for XX rooms, they don't pay anything if a room goes unbooked. They're simply a booking service. – JonathanReez Feb 27 '17 at 7:37
  • @JonathanReez: It's a bit more complicated. What is likely happening is that booking.com reserves X rooms from the hotel, attempts to sell them, and then returns the unsold rooms to the hotel (without compensation). Of course, booking.com will attempt to sell the rooms regardless, they don't make profit off unsold ones; in that sense they are losing money if they don't sell. – Matthieu M. Feb 27 '17 at 11:49
  • 2
    @MatthieuM If I'm not mistaken the hotel updates Booking.com's systems with each new booking, this makes it perfectly feasible. – JonathanReez Feb 27 '17 at 12:43

It's clearly legal as you are abiding by the terms of the contract.

Considering the ethics: Hotels and airlines use complicated revenue optimization systems that carefully monitor the supply and demand. Just recently I looked at a hotel in Vegas where the same room in March varied between $46 and $599. As a customer you have every right to play the same game!

Also pretty much all refundable rates these days are considerably more expensive than a rate that can't be cancelled. So your rate already includes effectively an "cancellation insurance premium" that the hotel has slapped on top of the regular rate. You paid for it, you may as well use it.

Call the hotel. Ask if they would prefer you to cancel and rebook through booking.com, or cancel then rebook direct. They will be paying a commision to booking.com, so may prefer the latter. Or they may have an agreement with booking.com that they won't 'pirate' contacts made through that system. Ask.

  • 3
    Any particular reason for giving the hotel the choice rather than booking.com? – pnuts Feb 27 '17 at 2:46
  • 1
    @pnuts The hotel may offer you a better rate when you book directly. – Dmitry Grigoryev Feb 27 '17 at 10:53
  • 1
    @DmitryGrigoryev Are they allowed to? I heard that the agreement with booking.com is that the hotel is not allowed to have lower prices elsewhere. – Federico Poloni Mar 1 '17 at 14:56
  • @FedericoPoloni Maybe, but many hotels still do that. I bet booking.com staff has better things to do than calling hotels pretending they're a customer and asking for a discount over the booking.com price. – Dmitry Grigoryev Mar 1 '17 at 16:26
  • Many hotels don't care, they will not negotiate. They treat calling customers as walk-ins. If you're walking in or you're calling you're a different market segment and they will treat you as such. – nsn Oct 24 at 17:57

As per your tag I assume that your booking has been through Bookings.com

Here is a relevant extract from their policy.

We want you to pay the lowest price possible for your product and service of choice. Should you find your product or service of choice booked through the Platform, with the same reservation conditions, at a lower rate on the Internet after you have made a reservation through us, we will match the difference between our rate and the lower rate under the terms and conditions of the Best Price Guarantee.

I have personally never had to do this. But you sure can try this. And I suppose they should consider cheaper price available from the same site also.

Additionally, they only allow this if your booking exactly matches with new one on any other website. For example, if you book a regular room for 30$ and next day you see that all the regular rooms are sold out and the hotel has discounted Superior rooms to 30$ or even less, you are helpless in that case.

  • 1
    That's what I've wondered, but decide to do it cold machine way in the end. – Ilya Feb 27 '17 at 13:18

The price match guarantee expires three days after the booking is made, whereas the free cancellation deadline is possibly later, in which case after the three days, cancel and rebook seems best.

If they offer it now for less, it is absolutely ok to rebook and cancel the old reservation. I have done that multiple times. Why should you pay more, even though you were willing to commit earlier? They expect no different, and they are willing to accept that. Don't even talk to them about it, just book again, and then cancel (watch the sequence! Otherwise, you might end up with having no room)

Your Answer

By clicking "Post Your Answer", you acknowledge that you have read our updated terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy, and that your continued use of the website is subject to these policies.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.