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Booking directly

TMcA

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
In 2013 my wife badly sprained her foot several days into our hike on the Le Puy route. We were forced to conclude our hike and to kind of treat ourselves we spent a couple of nights in a nice hotel in Aumont-Aubrac. When we returned two years later to continue our hike we again stayed at this hotel.

This morning I received an "e-letter" from this hotel. In it, the manager makes clear that the property and its employees will struggle if the current trend of reserving rooms using booking sites continues. I was shocked to learn that the commission charged was 18%. That's a huge amount and I don't know whether it is representative of the commissions negotiated by property owners in France as well as in Spain and other countries.

Giving up the ease of using these sites means more effort and hassle on my part. But I am going to try and reserve directly (after looking at a property's website and evaluating the rate and cancellation policy). And I realize that this may not be feasible for modest properties or for those walking without knowledge of where they might spend the night. But as I said, I am going to try.

Thanks for considering.
 

andycohn

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF (12-15); Muxia (15); Portuguese, Primitivo (17); Norte, Ingles, VF partial (18), Le Puy (19)
It's not that much more hassle to book directly. What I'll often do is use booking.com to identify the possibilities, then after I've narrowed them down, I google the lodgings I'm interested in (or look them up in gronze) find the contact info. and then contact them directly -- either through their website, or by phone or email. That way, as you said, everything goes into the owner's pocket, and usually you get the same deal or better by contacting them directly. If not, you can always negotiate with them, or go back and make the booking through booking.com.

Another advantage of contacting places directly is that often they will be listed as "sold out" on booking.com, when, in fact, they're not.

And of course, there's tons of places who don't list on booking.com -- usually smaller and less expensive -- that may have more availability for the simple reason that they're not listed on booking.com, which everyone blindly uses. These are generally found on gronze, and, of course, in the many guidebooks and apps available.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
If a property does not require credit card information or payment ahead of time, then I book directly. For these unsecured reservations, the trade off usually is that the reservation is lost if I either fail to arrive by a specific time, or if I do not contact the property and pay for the room by a specific time.

I have been burned several times in the past when I have booked properties which allow cancellations up to three days or so before the date of check-in, had already given credit card information, and then tried to cancel according to the policy.

The only other issue is that if there are language barriers, it can sometimes be difficult to arrange a reservation by phone. Sometimes emailing with Google Translate can solve the problem, sometimes emails don't get returned (for whatever reason, like a wrong listed email address).
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
To take a contrary view - how much would these properties spend on advertising if they weren't on the booking sites? The booking sites provide a service for these places, and no one is forcing them to use them. They want the exposure that being listed on booking sites give them without the cost.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
You give some very good reasons for booking directly. On the other hand, there are very good reasons that the small hotels use the booking sites - they get exposure to potential customers around the world. I don't know what a fair commission would be.

My reason for oftten using booking.com is this.... Many of the smaller establishments do not have sophisticated websites and booking systems. So, I am less confident in giving them my credit card information, and am not always certain of their cancellation policies. For travel to places in another country for a one-night stand, on a day I might want to change or even cancel, the booking site works much better, probably for both me and the establishment.

I am not disagreeing at all with @andycohn. In fact, I intend to give more consideration to direct-booking, especially if I know the establishment from prior travel.

Smaller lodgings can perhaps increase our confidence in various ways - being members of a business association, providing very clear cancellation policies and procedures on their website, etc. But that would be more work for them.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
In 2013 my wife badly sprained her foot several days into our hike on the Le Puy route. We were forced to conclude our hike and to kind of treat ourselves we spent a couple of nights in a nice hotel in Aumont-Aubrac. When we returned two years later to continue our hike we again stayed at this hotel.

This morning I received an "e-letter" from this hotel. In it, the manager makes clear that the property and its employees will struggle if the current trend of reserving rooms using booking sites continues. I was shocked to learn that the commission charged was 18%. That's a huge amount and I don't know whether it is representative of the commissions negotiated by property owners in France as well as in Spain and other countries.

Giving up the ease of using these sites means more effort and hassle on my part. But I am going to try and reserve directly (after looking at a property's website and evaluating the rate and cancellation policy). And I realize that this may not be feasible for modest properties or for those walking without knowledge of where they might spend the night. But as I said, I am going to try.

Thanks for considering.
Try onlypilgrims.com I would normally book my first night and if I cant contact the albergue directly, i have used this site. Then as I approach Santiago its the same thing. Either direct or the same booking site. You pay a euro or two more than at the door so you pay the service not the albergue
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2010/2011/2012/2013: Madrid -Salvador -Primitivo 2014: EPW 2015: Amsterdam - SdC
Thanks @TMcA for your considerations.

There are indeed many reason not to reserve a place through booking.

No competition
The usual rate for booking is indeed 15% which is a huge part of any income. 15% is a lot if you consider this company made a profit last year of 2.3 billion Euro's. Be aware that is only the profit it made. They can do this because there is hardly any competition any more. Booking can ask what it wants, and that is what they do. Instead of lowering the percentage (which would be the thing when there is a normal competition) they don't do this. Just because they don't have to. Everyone also on this forum is mentioning booking.com, not any other.
So, no there is no competition any more and booking is misusing it's power. Booking is based in the Netherlands. Last week it became quit a scandal that booking is one of the first companies who asked the government for financial aid....., with 2.3 billion profit and all they have to do is keeping up one website.
Anyone using booking is helping this ruler just by earning more money. Never feel pitty for them.

Search engines and publicity
What happens if a hotel is on booking is that on al internet searching engines the own website is pushed away by booking. They know very well how to do this. For many hotels there is no other choice then joining booking, which at the same time means that less people find their website directly. So, there is no fair deal anymore about making your own advertisements or not.
As we all know what happens in a field where there is no competition any more: this is not good for customers. While any hotel/albergue owner need to work so much, investors earn easy money.

Most pilgrims places are not on booking
Another thing is that most pilgrimsaccomodations are not on booking. If you just look at that site you might miss the best places for pilgrims. At the same time you force accommodations to put a hight price.
Please use any guide or app to make a choice. Don't make yourself, and all accomodations dependent of only one site with 2.3 billion profit.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
@Thomas1962 : thank you so much! I could not agree more.
I remember on my last Camino when I called a familypension in La Brujula ( just before Burgos ) on the Vasco Interior to book a double room. Price on Bookingdotcom = 65. Directly with them = 48 !!
And you always get a better welcome too.

Yes indeed ... those people having the guts to ask for financial aid!
 

CWBuff

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
in Planning stage: Frances (SJPdP --> SdC) & Finisterre "2021" ... (GOD WILLING!)
Through my whole adult life from the time these places came to existence IIRC I used Expedia\Travelocity may be a handful of times; never Booking.
I agree with folks who state that quite a lot of times you can get a better deal by going directly to an establishment
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Thanks @TMcA for your considerations.

There are indeed many reason not to reserve a place through booking.

No competition
The usual rate for booking is indeed 15% which is a huge part of any income. 15% is a lot if you consider this company made a profit last year of 2.3 billion Euro's. Be aware that is only the profit it made. They can do this because there is hardly any competition any more. Booking can ask what it wants, and that is what they do. Instead of lowering the percentage (which would be the thing when there is a normal competition) they don't do this. Just because they don't have to. Everyone also on this forum is mentioning booking.com, not any other.
So, no there is no competition any more and booking is misusing it's power. Booking is based in the Netherlands. Last week it became quit a scandal that booking is one of the first companies who asked the government for financial aid....., with 2.3 billion profit and all they have to do is keeping up one website.
Anyone using booking is helping this ruler just by earning more money. Never feel pitty for them.

Search engines and publicity
What happens if a hotel is on booking is that on al internet searching engines the own website is pushed away by booking. They know very well how to do this. For many hotels there is no other choice then joining booking, which at the same time means that less people find their website directly. So, there is no fair deal anymore about making your own advertisements or not.
As we all know what happens in a field where there is no competition any more: this is not good for customers. While any hotel/albergue owner need to work so much, investors earn easy money.

Most pilgrims places are not on booking
Another thing is that most pilgrimsaccomodations are not on booking. If you just look at that site you might miss the best places for pilgrims. At the same time you force accommodations to put a hight price.
Please use any guide or app to make a choice. Don't make yourself, and all accomodations dependent of only one site with 2.3 billion profit.
Booking.com actually has quite a bit of competition. From Hotels.com to Travelocity to Expedia to Airbnb, and quite a few more resources. I think it is one thing to argue the merits of directly booking lodgings with a facility, but it is quite another to try make that issue part of a larger anti-Booking.com argument.

And before anyone thinks I am a Booking.com Fan-Boi, it is best to review a criticism I wrote about them last year in terms of reservations which are not REALLY reservations.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Camino(s) past & future
2015 CF, 2016 Camino Portuguese, 2018 Le Puy to St. Jean, 2019 CF
I always book directly and it gives me an opportunity to make a connection with the owners. I have never been asked to give a credit card number either. The two times I did use Booking.com I had to cancel and was not able to get my $ back.
 

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Camino(s) past & future
some and then more. see my signature.
I always book directly and it gives me an opportunity to make a connection with the owners. I have never been asked to give a credit card number either. The two times I did use Booking.com I had to cancel and was not able to get my $ back.

Absolutely : so nice to be able to connect directly with the owners. Excellent way also to practice my Spanish.
Never had to give my credit card details either. It just works perfectly with honesty and a given word.

Once I was not able to get through on the phone for a direct booking with the owner so reluctantly I used bookingdotcom.
When I arrived I told the owner I tried to call him directly. He apologized, seems there was something wrong with the landline that day before. He could not cancel that reservation anymore but he gave me a much more expensive room with my own private bathroom for the same price as the single room with a shared bathroom.
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Booking directly is often cheaper because the establishment can then offer a small discount when not paying the booking commission.
Here in Oz the booking conditions often preclude the establishment offering or advertising prices lower than the lowest offered by a booking site.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
please see signature
@TMcA, kia ora and thanks for raising this.

Many years ago I was wandering around Belgium in a rental car and doing it my way (sleeping in the back seat close to the road, behind a barn or similar). Came my last night I using a booking service to secure a room in an hotel in Charleroi before flying out the next day. I was rapt: I had secured a € 140 room for € 79. That is, until I fronted the reception desk and saw the daily room rate listed on the side wall: € 79.

Like others, when looking for a place ahead of time, above I use a range of booking services. And often I see a message like this "hurry, only 2 left on our site". That doesn't mean the accommodation is full, just that their allocation is running down. And, of course, it may mean that their allocation was only 2 in the first place.

My usual strategy, en marche, is to start looking as I enter the town and stop at them as I come to them. In 2016 and 2017 I can only recall having to continue looking twice over 1500 km and 60 plus nights. And this in April, May and October - normally busy months.

Kia kaha (take care, be strong, get going when you can)
 
I actually loved the convenience of using booking.com as I am usually planning for a small group of 6 - no waiting for days or weeks to hear back, by using the map and reading the reviews ( especially those who are on the Camino) you can easily figure out an accommodation that will work well for you. But compared to a few years ago it is not as good now, too many “ last room left”, when you need 3 rooms, and often substantially higher prices, and more places with no cancellation policies. So I am now back to individually emailing, and with translation apps it seems I am hearing back more quickly.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
There is an Aussie based booking site called wotif.com that was my go-to site for travel down under (they work globally) and what I loved about them was they would offer mystery options. You’d put in your preferences for amenities and price range and alongside the usual list, they’d toss out an option that was faceless. You did not know the name of the place until after you’d booked. They’d be decent places that were perhaps overlooked by most tourists because they were an extra block away.

I’ve used booking sites to research, take a screen shot, and walk into the hotel to ask directly. If the price the hotel would quote was higher, I’d ask if they could match the offer. They always did, and they still saved the commission.
 

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