Isabel Rey5 minutes read

Booking.com’s customer orientation (at the expense of the hotel): 7 examples

Booking.com is a sales leader and you can see that every month due to the amount of bookings that it generates. One of the cornerstones of its success is its customer orientation, a highly used concept in marketing –occasionally unfounded- but that in this case it’s put into practice in all of its processes with great skill. This is exemplified by having achieved the first place in satisfaction in a study by J.D. Power and Associates.

There are key situations in which the user is boss and there is no doubt that he “has to be given what he demands”, but in other cases, in the ones where there’s a conflict between the interests of the user and those of the hotel, Booking.com always sides with the user, winning him over and gaining customer loyalty even more, occasionally in detriment of the hotel.

Let’s see some examples of actions of Booking.com that pose “situations of conflict”:

1.- Guarantees the best price, although at the expense of the hotel

Booking.com guarantees the best price on its website and offers to match it to its users if they find a better one. However, when a user claims the payment for the difference between both prices, Booking.com sometimes charges that amount to the hotel.

2.- Its restrictions are “less restrictive”

When a hotelier charges prices with minimum stay or in-advance restrictions on Booking.com, he applies them in a way that they can make certain searches be more competitive. For example, when a hotelier makes an offer of a package with minimum stay, the booking system of Booking.com understands that this minimum stay is for the totality of days of the booking, not necessarily for the days that the offer is valid for. Meanwhile, other booking systems understand that the minimum stay is ‘on offer’, in other words, that for a minimum stay of 3 nights, all 3 must have the tariff of the offer. Here’s another example for the in-advance situation: a hotel has an offer for an in-advance booking of minimum 15 days. With a search for 2 nights 14 days in advance, it would offer a night with the price of the offer and another night with the normal price, while other systems would not show the offer because they understand that it’s the check-in day that marks that the offer can be applied. The way of interpreting the restrictions changes from one channel to the other but what you should know is that, even with equal charges and almost without noticing, in some cases the offer through Booking.com is more favourable than through other channels, generating a competitive advantage.

  • In practice: First you must understand how each channel applies the restrictions to act consequentially. So that your website offer is just as attractive as the one on Booking.com, choose an engine that allows you to configure these details.

3.- Frees availability automatically with cancellations

Last September, Booking.com took the unilateral decision of freeing availability automatically when a booking is cancelled, which could mean a problem for hoteliers if they had counted on selling that room directly or through another channel, at the same time making the hotelier who wants to close availability to enter his extranet once again. This way, a new client of Booking.com can benefit from this room in detriment of other channels, especially your website.

  • In practice: It’s not good nor bad that the rooms are freed automatically, but be coherent and don’t just do it with Booking.com, since you’d be favouring them as a channel. In any case, you can ask Booking.com to deactivate this function so that whether you open or close, you do it equally in all channels, always trying to benefit your website.

4.- Tries to convince the hoteliers so that they ‘overlook’ the penalties.

Occasionally, Booking.com tries to persuade the hoteliers so that they don’t charge the penalties for non-reimbursable booking cancellations or cancellations outside the date limit. If the hotel accepts, Booking.com wins over the client, who will undoubtedly book again with them. However, will the user book the same hotel? Booking.com has managed to gain loyalty from clients at the expense of the hotels, but the benefit for the hotel is unclear.

  • In practice: By rule, the non-reimbursable rooms should not be reimbursed. In case of making exceptions, although by contract Booking.com prohibits it, do not discard a dialogue with the user, since sometimes it’s the user himself who contacts the hotel. This way, since the effort is yours, you are the one who wins over the client. In any case, you should assess it with a general policy for all your clients and in all your channels, always favouring your direct sales and not doing it only because Booking.com asks you.

5.- Favours your ‘Pro’ clients

To their best clients, those who book a lot through their website, Booking.com distinguishes them with the title of ‘B. Pro’ Client. And to the hotelier, they send ‘highly captivating’ messages to favour them, offering them, as they say, “something special as a good will gesture (for example, a welcome drink, fruit in the room, an improvement in the room type…)”, gaining a positive comment in exchange. In practice, it’s highly profitable for Booking.com, since they gain even more trust from their best clients and this increases their position of power.

  • In practice: This action is part of the customer loyalty strategy by Booking.com, not of your hotel, and therefore it is them who should offer the incentive to the client, since they are ‘their’ clients, not yours. The fact that they book frequently on Booking.com does not mean that they book a lot in your hotel. However, increasing customer loyalty is a good initiative from which you can learn, but you will have to invest in it. Have you thought about making the Booking.com client come back to your hotel as a direct client?

6.- Does not hesitate in publishing negative reviews

There are still hoteliers that censor reviews on their websites, using a non-automatic system to publish them and deleting those with the slightest negative aspects. Booking.com, facing this same conflict, decided to publish all the comments, both positive and negative, being transparent with the user. If a client publishes a negative comment, it will stay on the website but the hotel does not have the option of publishing a response to that comment.

  • In practice: In order to sell online, it’s unavoidable that your hotel exposes itself to comments by clients: if publishing comments was negative, Booking.com would not sell you. Think about publishing comments on your website too and choose a system that allows you to go further and participate in the conversation, replying to the client and publishing your response. A well-handled criticism is a good sales chance.

7.- Offer the user to choose preferences

To allow the user to choose preferences such as type of bed or smoking room, can also be a conflict for hoteliers in practice, since if they offer a double room without specifying the type of bed, they have a bigger margin to complete their rooms. In the opposite case, it forces them to be more precise in the inventory control and it can become a problem with the client if they do not ‘comply’ with their preference.

  • In practice: If you offer it through Booking.com, it would be only logical to do the same with the rest of the channels, especially in your direct channel. 

Conclusion

These are just some examples of how Booking.com always sides with the user in any case of conflict between him and the hotel, but there are infinity of cases and new ones continuously emerge. By consenting to all of them and allowing for these advantages only to be applied to the clients that arrive through Booking.com, you are giving them a competitive advantage regarding the rest of channels and you are increasing the dependence that you have on them. To avoid this, in case of doubt between interests, remember of Booking.com’s success and benefit the user of your website in equal measure.

Other related articles:
– “Booking.com sells me too much” (I): The bear hug
– “Booking.com sells me too much” (and II): …more than the hotel website
– Booking.com: Your worst best friend?

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9 thoughts

  1. Curiosamente la última vez que preferí reservar directamente con el hotel en lugar de con Booking recibí una habitación peor que la habitual en el mismo lugar. Obviamente con Booking hubiera podido poner una crítica negativa y en la web del hotel no hay esa posibilidad. Una y no más…

    • Tienes razón, Francisco, eso es precisamente lo contrario de lo que en Mirai recomendamos a los hoteles, que es favorecer siempre a los clientes directos. En tu caso entiendo que no fue así y además no pudiste poner una crítica en su web (en muchas webs de hoteles si que es posible). Es una lástima para el hotel que tu mala experiencia haga que no tengas intención de volver a reservar por su web.

  2. en booking no pone estacia minima en algun hotel o casa rural que estuve mirando pero sin enbargo cuando llamo por tlf para preguntar me dicen todos que son estacias minimas de 2 a 3 noches…. y yo solo necesito una… no lo entiendo si encargo en booking puedo una noche y por tlf no?

  3. Estoy muy descontenta con Booking . Cuando tienes un problema como una cancelación, no te lo solucionan. Te dan muy buenas palabras, pero no te solucionan el problema. No lo aconsejo a nadie

  4. Hize una reserva a través de booking para semana santa 2015 para Toledo..al apartamento romerito.después de haber cargado en mi tarjeta el primer pago…y recibir un e.mail de confirmación de la reserva llame tanto a booking como al hotel y sin problemas tdo correcto casi 15dias antes.yo tranquila y con ansias de llegar el viaje.cual me ws mi sorpresa k el sábado a 5dias antes de mi viaje recibo la llamada del apartamento romerito y me comunican k no puede ser .k se haproducido overboking y k la uúnica solución que me ofrecen es una casa rural a 5km del centro..k coja transporte publico.le comento k esa opción no es valida.y me dice el dueño k en 5minutos me llama ..pues bien a día de hoy aun estoy esperando esa llamada…y por parte de bokkmg aún estoy esperando solución…dicen que te llaman …pero no me llmam ..llevo mas de 10llamadas cobradas caras…y aune dicen que la diferencia de otro hotel la page yo…que ya me lo darán…hoja de reclamaciones no me facilitan…y ninguna solución..les pido el reembolso y tampoko es factible…además el mismo día que me dicen k no esta disponible ese apartamento me cobran la segunda parte…y aquí siguo esperando solución..y con las vacaciones amargadas antes de irme.he ido a la oficina del consumidor …y por supuesto reclamó daños.aparte iré al aartemnto romerito y pondré una hoja de reclamaciones alli mismo.penoso..k juegen asi kn nuestro dinero e ilusion

  5. El servicio de booking cara al establecimiento es terrible!! deja mucho que desear. “La mayoría de sus operari@s son pocos diligentes”. Booking, trabaja bien cara al cliente pero con los establecimientos hoteleros y extra hoteleros que son los que realmente les genera el negocio no se implican ni se preocupan es subsanar incidencias o, por poner un ejemplo, y hablo en nombre de muchos hoteles, al solicitar un cambio de texto o descripción siempre ceñido a la realidad en aras de actualizar y mejorar la información se ha de pasar muchos filtros, vallas y sensores. Para más asombro una vez consigues que te modifiquen o redacten el contenido de una descripción hacen y redactan todo lo contrario a lo solicitado. Es un verdadero quebradero de cabeza. Booking se ha olvidado que los establecimientos son tan importantes como los clientes y el comentario y disgusto empieza a trascender y ha ser generalizado. Preocupante y decepcionante!!! Como hotelero ya he dejado de trabajar con Booking. No lo recomiendo.

  6. Yo como usuario de booking, os aconsejo a los hoteles que en la factura desgloséis el importe que se lleva booking.

    De este modo el usuario es consciente de que el servicio que proporciona booking no es gratis. Y, si ha recibido un buen trato por parte del hotel, la próxima vez que reserve preferirá hacerlo directamente en el hotel, como agradecimiento, siempre y cuando reciba el mismo precio y condiciones que si reservara con booking.

    A mi me ha pasado.

    De todos modods, el problema que encuentro es que la mayoría de veces las condiciones son mejores a través de booking que en la propia web del hotel. Y cuando digo “condiciones”, no me refiero solo al precio, sino sobretodoa a la política de cancelaciones y facilidad de uso de la web.

  7. Y respecto a la política de no borrar comentarios, me parece muy acertada. No creo que booking deba dar más credibilidad a los hoteles que a los usuarios. Tened en cuenta, además, que el usuario de booking no es tonto. Si ves un hotel con una nota media de 9 y 50 comentarios positivos, si leesla opinión de una sola persona diciendo que “hay cucarachas”, ya te imaginas que, o bien es un histérico, o un mentiroso o tubo muy mala suerte.

  8. Curiosamente llevo dos días esperando que publiquen mi valoración negativa de un establecimiento y la tienen retenida. No es cierto que lo publiquen todo y eso que he sido benevolente con la pocilga.