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In Defense of Booking Com

BombayBill

Still Learning
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2023 Norte - Del Mar , Invierno
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
 
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Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Time of past OR future Camino
2023?
Always been a fan & long term user.
Another huge plus for B.com is it removes the language barrier. All communication is in the preferred tongue of the person making the booking; a massive stress reliever when travelling...by any mode!
👣🌏
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Overall I don't make advance reservations when walking the Camino but I do make them in Saint Jean and Santiago, and probably a dozen or so times in other places along the Frances. I've always used booking. com for that. Never had a problem doing so and I like the option of prepayment. I use my PayPal account for that. Safe and fast transaction.
 
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henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
My affair
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
All that convenience does come at a cost though, doesn’t it? What percentage of the revenue goes to booking.com?

(As a client, I do use booking.com from time to time; but prefer to make direct contact with the accommodation and book direct where I can, but that’s just me)
 

Marbe2

Active member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015-2019 walked all or more than half of CF 7 times... CP recently cancelled by Covid 19!
It is my first choice when booking a reservation using a one site company to make reservations. Booking.com site is hands down, IMO, the most user friendly! It has the best maps for hotel locations, organization of your bookings with easy access to it, simple to cancel reservations.
BTW my experience has been most of the time when I go to the accommodations directly the prices are the same.
 

Corned Beef

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP Part 2/2023
All that convenience does come at a cost though, doesn’t it? What percentage of the revenue goes to booking.com?

I'd be interested too so that pilgrims were informed about the saving available to the albergue by contacting direct - allowing for the phone answering, and cash handling.
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
My affair
It is my first choice when booking a reservation using a one site company to make reservations. Booking.com site is hands down, IMO, the most user friendly! It has the best maps for hotel locations, organization of your bookings with easy access to it, simple to cancel reservations.
BTW my experience has been most of the time when I go to the accommodations directly the prices are the same.
Contractually, for the same room and facilities, the Booking.com price and direct booking price have to be the same. That doesn’t always appear to be the case in practice.

Accommodation providers often only list a proportion of their rooms as they, obviously, make more from direct bookings. I’ve often been told that I’ll get a better deal by booking direct as ‘a repeat customer’ next time I stay.

I can see both sides of this. I’ve happily used booking.con in the past and I’m impressed with their product.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
I have paid more as a walk up than was quoted on Booking. In relation to whether they are more likely to keep your room, I think it depends when you book. On a few occasions when I made last minute bookings, I arrived and the receptionist had no knowledge of my booking, so I presume they could easily let someone else have it.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
VdlP(2012) Madrid(2014)Frances(2015) VdlP(2016)
VdlP(2017)Madrid/Sanabres/Frances reverse(2018)
I agree with the generally positive remarks. However, as has been pointed out several times, I think, the contention about b.com is that it often gives the impression that accommodation is completely booked out. (Check out Santiago in July 2023). Of course,many people, me included, often reserve months in advance with the option of free cancellation.
 

Jodean

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 CF, 17.04.-26.05.22 CF
15.04-31.05.23 CF
In Jan. 2020, I made a direct booking with a guesthouse in Iceland for 4 nights at the end of March, rather then with booking dot com. Then Covid hit. They had already booked my credit card and absolutely refused a refund. Said the Icelandic Tourist Bureau said they didn't have to. We had a plethora of emails back and forth, plus phone calls, and finally, finally, they gave me a voucher good for 3 years, rather than just give me a refund. The only reason they did this was because I told them I had done the right thing by booking directly with them, but if I had booked with booking dot com, none of this would have happened.

So, am on the fence about booking direct or not. Did so with most of my beds this past spring, but all per email. If they wanted a payment, I booked 9 nights with B. com instead. Plan on doing the same for next spring. Both seem to have certain advantages. With B.com, the place has a better idea of how full they will be, and as already noted, no need for clumsy translations for an international pilgrim group. Occupancy is the name of the game in the hospitality industry.
 

sugargypsy

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF 2019
Planning: CP / CF or CdN 2022
Contractually, for the same room and facilities, the Booking.com price and direct booking price have to be the same. That doesn’t always appear to be the case in practice.

This rule does not apply everywhere. In Germany, for example, the Federal Court of Justice ruled in 2021 that the associated restriction on hotels was anti-competitive.

Hotels that present themselves on booking portals such as Booking.com are allowed to offer their rooms cheaper on their own website. Such clauses are finally a thing of the past on the German hotel market. I don't know how this is ruled in Spain though.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
Ive always liked the ease of booking.com, where all your bookings are kept together and cancellation is possible.
A friend of mine with a B&B doesnt like it, she feels forced to use it, is unhappy with the review system, which she feels is quite one-way. People who have stolen items for instance, and then left bad reviews, which she cant counter. She finds some people book several places for the same day, and make their mind up late and cancel, meaning she loses bookings/income and isnt able to replace the earnings at short notice. So she does prioritise people who book directly.
I was prepared to book directly more often after hearing her views, especially after reading on here about whats app.
I'll see how I go, does anyone with recent experience know which places are best booked directly on CF?
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
My affair
This rule does not apply everywhere. In Germany, for example, the Federal Court of Justice ruled in 2021 that the associated restriction on hotels was anti-competitive.

Hotels that present themselves on booking portals such as Booking.com are allowed to offer their rooms cheaper on their own website. Such clauses are finally a thing of the past on the German hotel market. I don't know how this is ruled in Spain though.
Thanks for the clarification
 
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Jodean

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 CF, 17.04.-26.05.22 CF
15.04-31.05.23 CF
Honestly, have heard that lots of albergues end up with empty beds and food purchased for dinners, when people do not show up that reserved. People are rude and don't bother to let them know.
Albergue owners? True or not?
 

LTfit

Veteran Member
All that convenience does come at a cost though, doesn’t it? What percentage of the revenue goes to booking.com?

(As a client, I do use booking.com from time to time; but prefer to make direct contact with the accommodation and book direct where I can, but that’s just me)
It was 15% in 2019-2020.

Contractually, for the same room and facilities, the Booking.com price and direct booking price have to be the same. That doesn’t always appear to be the case in practice.
Why is that? Albergue owners that I know recuperate the booking.com fee by increasing the price on that site.
Accommodation providers often only list a proportion of their rooms as they, obviously, make more from direct bookings. I’ve often been told that I’ll get a better deal by booking direct as ‘a repeat customer’ next time I stay.
I always preferred a direct booking as that gave me the opportunity to speak directly with the pilgrim in question and ask if there were any special needs or requests (I offered breakfast and dinner).
I can see both sides of this. I’ve happily used booking.con in the past and I’m impressed with their product.
I've never used them for any Camino and if reserved always called myself.
 

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Time of past OR future Camino
2023?
FYI for those who do not know; Booking.com & Agoda are the same company. I sway between the two as there is often a price difference. I'm a 'Genius' 😇 on B.com which gives me discounts & bonuses (like breakfast for eg) but Agoda often have things like cashback ultimately making the stay cheaper.
As for booking multiple properties on the same date; B.com flag it & require you to cancel the 'extras'. If you want to pull that caper, you need to make reservations with separate booking platforms that aren't connected! 😉
Also I have on a number of occasions been asked by the property on arrival to cancel my booking with B.com so they don't have to pay the commission. So any ethical issues work both ways... 🤔
👣🌏
 

henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
My affair
I was corrected on the ‘same price’ comment - at least as regards Germany; but the commercial logic from b.com’s point of view is pretty self-evident.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Via Francigena Torino-Rome Feb/Mar 22
In the US, the rates offered online by sites like Booking are generally better than what the hotel can offer directly. More than once, when the hotel would not match the online price, I've stepped away from reception, booked online, and stepped back. In Spain, prices are lower by calling the hotel directly. In 2017 on the VdlP, I ran into a Norwegian using Booking for places we both stayed. His rates were always several euros higher.
 
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Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Time of past OR future Camino
2020
I haven't read all the replies, so apologies if this question has already been answered. Speaking as an accommodation owner, I just checked my financial records and the commission I pay to Booking is 15%. With AirBnB it's much less, so we use them almost exclusively and only open the calendar on Booking as a last resort.
 

CarolamS

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2019
This is certainly another complex topic! On the CF this September/October I generally booked a day or two ahead. I used a variety of methods and didn't find WhatsApp very successful. My spoken Spanish is minimal but just enough to book a bed or room. However it is not enough to understand if the host had much to say to me! Then there was the problem of making the call at a suitable time. Booking.com became my favourite method because it was just so easy.
 

jenwearing

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (SJPP) 2018, Portuguese (Lisbon) Dec 2022
I just used Booking for 19 of my 20 nights on the camino Portuguese im starting this December. The 20th booking I did direct and it took 2 weeks and 7 emails to get it correct. 😅
That said, if I was doing the CP in the busy season, I wouldn’t have booked ahead at all, except maybe my first night in Lisbon. I just knew that it would be harder over Christmas and new years and I have a super limited timeline so I can’t roll the dice.
Booking dot com made it really really easy to feel like I can do this at such an odd time.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
This is certainly another complex topic! On the CF this September/October I generally booked a day or two ahead. I used a variety of methods and didn't find WhatsApp very successful. My spoken Spanish is minimal but just enough to book a bed or room. However it is not enough to understand if the host had much to say to me! Then there was the problem of making the call at a suitable time. Booking.com became my favourite method because it was just so easy.
These are my reasons as well.
My Spanish/French/Portuguese/Italian language skills are nearly nil, yet I have walked caminos in those countries. For me, when pre-booking a whole month+ of lodging at a time as I do now, avoiding all the rigamarole of trying to call direct from the US or using whatsapp would become a huge hassle, so Booking.com becomes my good friend with far less stress and peace of mind.
Those with good Spanish language skills, living in the EU/UK, or those who only booking a day or two in advance once on the trail, I can see how direct booking works well for them.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
We do use booking or other hotel apps for the more expensive or luxury places, but mostly don't stay in places in the Camino that take any kind of reservations. I can see why it is popular with travelers Including pilgrims. It is a service so there is a charge to someone, in this case the owner of the establishment. We all pay for services such as bank and ATM fees, luggage transfers, and amenities like internet are wrapped up the price of your coffee con leche, etc.

We all have different reasons for why we do or don't shop a certain way or stay at certain places. Others will either agree or disagree with the philosophy. Albergue and hotel owners want to be full, while pilgrims are often worried that they won't find a bed. Booking.com uses that angle as a marketing tool. Some establishment owners will use it while others won't. As a pilgrim, It is good to keep that in mind and know that not all beds in a community will be represented on this one service.
 
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Stuart S

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
I usually use B.com when travelling but I have found that sometimes going through Trivago the B.com price is cheaper than on the B.com site, and occasionally a hotel will appear through Trivago for B.com which is not even on the B.com site. Best to check various websites to get the best price.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2006 to date: Over 21 Caminos. See signature line
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
I've enjoyed using Booking.com over the years.
It IS difficult to get in touch with a human when you have problems, but overall, I've found it useful.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I usually use B.com when travelling but I have found that sometimes going through Trivago the B.com price is cheaper than on the B.com site, and occasionally a hotel will appear through Trivago for B.com which is not even on the B.com site. Best to check various websites to get the best price.
In the US we normally use Hotels.com for travel, but they offer far fewer smaller, intimate type propertiesa internationally, so for the Caminos, Booking.com works better for my needs/wants.
 

Rex

One Step at a Time
Time of past OR future Camino
2023 VF 2nd Half
FYI for those who do not know; Booking.com & Agoda are the same company. I sway between the two as there is often a price difference. I'm a 'Genius' 😇 on B.com which gives me discounts & bonuses (like breakfast for eg) but Agoda often have things like cashback ultimately making the stay cheaper.
As for booking multiple properties on the same date; B.com flag it & require you to cancel the 'extras'. If you want to pull that caper, you need to make reservations with separate booking platforms that aren't connected! 😉
Also I have on a number of occasions been asked by the property on arrival to cancel my booking with B.com so they don't have to pay the commission. So any ethical issues work both ways... 🤔
👣🌏

Also I have on a number of occasions been asked by the property on arrival to cancel my booking with B.com so they don't have to pay the commission. So any ethical issues work both ways... 🤔
👣🌏
This happened with my VF walk through France last summer on multiple occasions. I refused as a matter of principle, explaining that I would be uncomfortable doing that and the innkeeper always understood, save one time and he created a bit of a mess on my VISA statement with some extra charges. My VISA card issuer dealt with him directly (after I discovered what he had done, essentially double charging me for the room and then saying he couldn't refund the fees without a $35 wire service fee.) The VISA people were great and got me a full refund.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I book rooms ahead (sorry, purists). I use a mix of direct booking and booking.com.

For someone renting rooms, here's some of the pros/cons of using booking.com. Many of these are a repeat of things said above...

Pros of booking.com:
- Eliminates language barriers
- Immediate reservation. No back and forth with property.
- Easy to cancel (up until cancellation date)
- High confidence that my reservation will be honored (no chance for miscommunication)
- If location of your lodging matters, the map view makes it easy to choose a place near where you want to stay
- All your reservations are in one easy list, so you can make sure you have every night covered
- You can pay ahead, which I find simplifies and speeds up check-in/check-out at many places
- If you use the service a lot, you start to get small discounts on many of your stays

Cons of booking.com:
- Takes some money out of the pocket of the lodging owner (15% according to comments above)
- Cancellation deadlines of several days or a week make it harder to be flexible on your Camino
- Many great lodging options aren't listed on the service
- Even those lodgings that are listed, don't list all of their rooms


EDIT: Originally under negatives, I listed: "After your stay, you get bombarded with "please rate your stay" emails." Tassie Kat pointed out that these can be turned off in Booking.com, so I deleted it from the list. See instructions below.
 
Last edited:
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Graeme Cook

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
23 April to 28 May 2022
We used b.com for probably 70% of our bookings when we walked the CF earlier this year. This ranged from £11 per night albergues up to £70 per night hotels. Generally we found it easier, quicker and more convenient than attempting to source accommodation ourselves. Maybe we were unlucky but our least enjoyable overnight experiences tended to be our DIY bookings. I wrote about our bookings, pricings thereof and overall experience in my book (shameless plug) although the book content is hopefully rather more interesting than just the accommodation information. We were Camino virgins so it was all very new to us.
 

sharonmonty

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Portuguese 2022
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
I’m a fan. They get criticised here a lot but they he service has its uses. Wouldn’t find lots of accommodation without it.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
@BillW, thanks for this concise list of both the pros and cons; I have experienced both. No method is totally perfect, but for me and my needs, the pros win out.

I have said this before...I admire those who are able to book direct with owners. I am not saying booking.com or similar are superior; they both have their place.
 

cardifflad52

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Sept 2015 Inglis Way , March 2022 Camino Frances
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
I whole heartily agree with you with regards to Booking.com as I have not always have had replies to my emails from the hospitaleros not just because of the language barrier , but no doubt they get overwhelmed with work getting things ready for the pilgrims stay , so really something like booking.com is a life saver if you need confirming what is opened and what is closed and with an instant click you can book your bed for the night , I have done this many a time on the CF and now as I am in the planning stages to do the Portuguese one next month from either from Lisbon or Porto I will no doubt need that for over the Christmas holiday but taking my tent as the last resort.
 

Walton

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
To those complaining about Booking.com fees - Do you think they should do everything for free?

Running a business such as theirs is expensive and they need to generate an income to pay those expenses.

I for one, don't mind paying 15% fee for wonderful convenience.

In the 1970's when I was a junior travel agent, depending on the amount of pre-departure lead time I remember sending telegrams or writing letters to make hotel reservations. That was time consuming and expensive.

The only thing you must be careful of is making absolutely certain you are booking an establishment in the place you want to stay. It is very easy to accidentally book accommodation that is no-where near the location that you wish to stay at.

Rant over

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Stuart S

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2018
I agree that it is very easy to book a place nowhere near the place you want, always check the map on the site. Another annoying mistake if if you are booking in late February for a night or two away, the calander that comes up is March, which matches the days of the week as February in non-leap years. I have shown up at booking a couple of times only to find out my reservation was a month away. Fortunately both times there was space available and the hotel did not have to pay the commission so all ended well,
 

Tincatinker

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2012
I’ve no objection to the Booking.con business model or their 15%. I do get wound up by the constant contact. I have to replace the delete key on my keyboard once a month. The thing that causes my goat to get got is that I can no longer rely on Town Halls and Tourist Offices to suggest accommodations. The usual response is “try booking…” I profoundly miss the human interaction. The slight wince in the voice as an honest local “recommended” the only hotel in town or the slight chuckle as they recommended their mum’s place. Now all I have to go on is “Kieron and Buffy thought the furniture was “cute””.
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2010/2011/2012/2013: Madrid -Salvador -Primitivo 2014: EPW 2015: Amsterdam - SdC
I use booking too at times, but not on the camino. Most places, especially the (for me) nice pilgrimaccomodatins, are not on booking. In the normal commercial world booking might be a right thing, but for many owners of an albergue the camino is not just a commercial thing.

Besides this, since more then 4 years I am also an owner of an albergue.
For me, booking has no added value, while the costs are 15% of the income. What also happens, once on booking, it becomes very difficult for people to find your your direct website on google. Al the search results are taken by booking and likewise websites. Your potential direct guests are kind of manipulated towards booking. it takes a lot of efford for your own site to be find.

Maybe the average pilgrim on this forum is different from the average pilgrim on the camino, but really by far most pilgrims use any kind of direct booking.
There are guides, sites and apps who offer information for free about every albergue, hotel or other accommodation on the camino, not just a selection who need booking. This information is reliable, not written by the albergue owner but by the writer of the app-guide websites. And these websites and apps also offer feedback comments from pilgrims.
Maybe we are lucky, maybe we have a good name, but we get more then enough pilgrims who reserve directly. And we are thankful for that. Having to use booking would take by far a too big part of the very small profit we have over the year.

So as a pilgrim, it can be comfortable to use booking sometimes. Especially if you are looking for private rooms. But don´t expect to find the nice pilgrimsplaces on booking, they have no reason to do so.
When the language is a problem, use google translate on your phone. Once you are used to it, it is a matter of a copy/page and a swipe. Or ask hospitalero´s or Spanis speaking pilgrims to make a phonecall for you.

For the coming future: a Galician association of albergue owners is busy making an own booking app for albergues. I hope this will be working soon. It will be an app without commission. I sincerely hope it will be a succes.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I use booking too at times, but not on the camino. Most places, especially the (for me) nice pilgrimaccomodatins, are not on booking. In the normal commercial world booking might be a right thing, but for many owners of an albergue the camino is not just a commercial thing.

Besides this, since more then 4 years I am also an owner of an albergue.
For me, booking has no added value, while the costs are 15% of the income. What also happens, once on booking, it becomes very difficult for people to find your your direct website on google. Al the search results are taken by booking and likewise websites. Your potential direct guests are kind of manipulated towards booking. it takes a lot of efford for your own site to be find.

Maybe the average pilgrim on this forum is different from the average pilgrim on the camino, but really by far most pilgrims use any kind of direct booking.
There are guides, sites and apps who offer information for free about every albergue, hotel or other accommodation on the camino, not just a selection who need booking. This information is reliable, not written by the albergue owner but by the writer of the app-guide websites. And these websites and apps also offer feedback comments from pilgrims.
Maybe we are lucky, maybe we have a good name, but we get more then enough pilgrims who reserve directly. And we are thankful for that. Having to use booking would take by far a too big part of the very small profit we have over the year.

So as a pilgrim, it can be comfortable to use booking sometimes. Especially if you are looking for private rooms. But don´t expect to find the nice pilgrimsplaces on booking, they have no reason to do so.
When the language is a problem, use google translate on your phone. Once you are used to it, it is a matter of a copy/page and a swipe. Or ask hospitalero´s or Spanis speaking pilgrims to make a phonecall for you.

For the coming future: a Galician association of albergue owners is busy making an own booking app for albergues. I hope this will be working soon. It will be an app without commission. I sincerely hope it will be a succes.
Thomas, this sounds like a great idea and hope it works out for all of you working together on the app in Galicia.
BTW, your albergue looks lovely from the photos on your profile page.🙂
 

trecile

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
PAST - Francés, Norte, Salvador, Portuguese
For the coming future: a Galician association of albergue owners is busy making an own booking app for albergues. I hope this will be working soon. It will be an app without commission
How will the app developer be paid? Will there also be a website that has to be maintained? Advertising a property is rarely free, so it's understandable that many accommodation owners see value in being on the largest hotel booking site on the world.

There have been lots of threads about the benefits to consumers of using booking sites. Thank you @BombayBill for showing us the benefits to the other side.
 
Create your own ad
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Time of past OR future Camino
2023?
Cons; After your stay, you get bombarded with "please rate your stay" emails
This is very easy to rectify.
For B.com, go into your profile, then click 'manage your account', then 'update your preferences' & tap the 'reservations' tab. From there you can opt out of everything except booking confirmation emails. Takes a few seconds & that little negative is gone forever.
B.com email preferences.jpg
🎉 🤗
👣🌏
 

Tassie Kaz

Sempre Avanti
Time of past OR future Camino
2023?
Also I have on a number of occasions been asked by the property on arrival to cancel my booking with B.com so they don't have to pay the commission. So any ethical issues work both ways... 🤔
👣🌏
This happened with my VF walk through France last summer on multiple occasions. I refused as a matter of principle, explaining that I would be uncomfortable doing that...
I've always refused too, giving the reason that if the property owner/manager doesn't want to pay the commission, then they shouldn't participate in the program!
👣🌏
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
This is very easy to rectify.
For B.com, go into your profile, then click 'manage your account', then 'update your preferences' & tap the 'reservations' tab. From there you can opt out of everything except booking confirmation emails. Takes a few seconds & that little negative is gone forever.
View attachment 137362
🎉 🤗
👣🌏
Did it! 👍
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I've always refused too, giving the reason that if the property owner/manager doesn't want to pay the commission, then they shouldn't participate in the program!
👣🌏
I have never heard of that until today, and have never been asked to do it thankfully, even after using booking.com on Caminos.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.

isawtman

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances, 2022
Ice Age Trail, 2014, 2019
Here's what I did.
If I was afraid I wouldn't get a bed the next night, I used
booking.com. I advise people to book from St Jean to Zubiri.
Pamplona has enough accommodations that you usually
don't have to worry about it, unless there is a festival, etc
Then, when I just barely got one of the last beds in Puente La Reina,
I booked the next night near Estella.

I walked the camino starting on Sept 2, 2022. I didn't realize
there would be a crush of people then. I thought the rush
might be after Labor Day as maybe many Americans come then.
I was wrong. If I would have started a week earlier, I probably
wouldn't have needed to use booking.com at all. Hospitalaros
were saying it wasn't that busy in late August
 
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TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I have been nomadic for the last 2.5 years and have literally booked hundreds of nights through booking.com. I have always found them to be excellent in terms of the range of product (I need cheap and the ability to chop and change at the very last minute), the ease of use of their app, their customer service, and so on. They are probably the best and most important company to me!

I know very little about the workings of the hotel industry, but assume small suppliers pay a flat percentage fee, maybe with allocated availability, and bigger suppliers have incentivised deals with access to live inventory. But that is a guess

I guess each supplier has to think of the the value that a big OTA brings to them in terms of reach.

As consumers we all behave differently. I must admit I would never dream of ever ringing a hotel to book and only every book online.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
I used to find Booking.com very useful and usually you got the best price and could pay later - this was very important for me as I was travelling for work and expenses were paid weekly. I couldn't afford to pay for it all up front.

Now there seems to be a complete lack of transparency about pricing. If you use a mobile phone you get a better price. I hadn't realised that booking through Trivago would get a better price but I booked a room just now in Oviedo for 4 nights.

Price through booking.com direct - €150
Price via Trivago - €140 (though this is higher than the €29 a night that was quoted on Trivago!)
Price via mobile phone with pre-payment (to booking.com, not direct to the hotel) - €124

The advertised price via the hotel website was €180, however last time I walked in and booked a room for one night I paid €34.
 

Lindasc

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
April 2023
All that convenience does come at a cost though, doesn’t it? What percentage of the revenue goes to booking.com?

(As a client, I do use booking.com from time to time; but prefer to make direct contact with the accommodation and book direct where I can, but that’s just me)
100%
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I imagine the percentage and the structure of the deal will vary by supplier. Big volume drivers will pay less I would guess with revenue incentives in place. Just a guess.
Indeed, the commission that hotels and other hospitality properties pay to Booking.com varies. On average it appears to be 15% of the price paid by the Booking.com customer. Their CEO, Glenn Fogel, did a video call interview with Spanish media recently and an average commission of 15% is what they report as a figure. Booking.com itself is actually a Dutch company. They were bought up by a US holding company some years ago who owns several travel technology companies including Kayak.com. One poster in this thread who actually owned a Camino albergue and made use of Booking.com also wrote that the percentage was 15%.

Booking's policies have been investigated numerous times by the EU's agency for competition law and consumer protection - also by national agencies such as Spain's CNMC - which resulted in some changes of Booking's policies.

Spanish news report about a book written by investigative Dutch journalists that has been translated into Spanish and was recently published: La Máquina: Booking.com, la verdadera historia. Various Spanish news articles did interviews with the authors. From what I understand owners may well put only a few of their beds on Booking.com, say just 3 out of 20, but when these 3 are booked, nothing stops them from putting another 3 up for sale on Booking.com. This article https://www.epe.es/es/cultura/20221...ibro-revela-trucos-enganosos-booking-78930144 is not behind a paywall and fairly interesting.

I used to be a very happy Booking.com customer. With all these forum threads, I grudgingly turned into a stubborn Booking.com customer with a guilty conscience.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Portuguese from Lisbon Apr 29, 2023
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
As A pilgrim, what I like about booking.com is that it’s easy to remember what you have booked without having to store a bunch of addresses and phone numbers. When I get close to the town where my accommodation is, I open it on booking.com and use the map to guide me in! 😊✌️
 

Schamber

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
May and June 2022
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
I loved using booking! It was very convenient! I booked all my rooms before flying and didn’t need to change one but if I had needed to it would have been easy.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I loved using booking! It was very convenient! I booked all my rooms before flying and didn’t need to change one but if I had needed to it would have been easy.
Amen!...and I don't live with a guilty conscience for using booking.com.
My post #24 gives my own personal reasons why I continue to appreciate it.
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.

SabsP

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
This is why I avoid sites like booking.com wherever possible. https://www.9news.com.au/national/d...on-rates/59171b53-4caa-41d6-9bac-4847bf00ff0a I have spoken to a motel owner in NSW who confirmed what Smith is saying, so while I may use these sites to find somewhere, I try to contact the venue directly.

Thank you! I want to support businesses where the money goes back to the local economy/ community and not towards some big players who will do their best to avoid paying taxes and treat their staff like ****!
Just like I will take my coffee at an independent bar and not in a chain one. Same for buying books.
 

rgsharp

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances April/May 2021
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
I used booking.com for most of the CF and found it a great tool. I really appreciated the comfort of knowing I would have a bed on arrival.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Thank you! I want to support businesses where the money goes back to the local economy/ community and not towards some big players who will do their best to avoid paying taxes and treat their staff like ****!
Just like I will take my coffee at an independent bar and not in a chain one. Same for buying books.
I agree to a point and also prefer to support my local businesses. I shop for my groceries at my local family owned store even though I pay more; I also meet friends at a privately owned coffee shop in the next village. I do get a Starbucks coffee when at an airport waiting for a flight...my bad.
I do not shop at Costco or Aldi's in the small city located near me as they are not convenient and are big business enterprises.
I will ask you though...how many of us use Amazon? I do, and I'm guessing a huge proportion of us on this forum, yet Amazon is notorious for pushing out the little guy, and they are known to have other questionable practices as well.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
the ‘same price’ comment - at least as regards Germany
FWIW, according to an April 2021 news item, Booking.com is prohibited from using these "parity clauses" in their contracts in Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Italy because of consumer law or anti-trust court decisions in these countries. In Spain, a hospitality association introduced such a request with CNMC last year (see Booking com: Spanish hotels revolt against its abuses) and demanded similar regulation or enforcement in Spain.

Also, more recently in October 2022, according to Reuters and other news sources: Spanish competition watchdog launches probe into Booking.com. I don't know what this is about, though.

Obviously, none of this will change Booking.com's dominant market position in Spain and in other European countries nor their 15 % commission for online bookings made on their website.
 
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WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
I have heard …
that if a place offers a room/bed on such an aggregate site, that they aren't allowed to sell that room directly.
Don't know whether that's true. But it makes sense: If I book a room with an online aggregator, and then get told someone else already has it, both the aggregator and the place get a bad reputation. But "not allowed" doesn't guarantee "won't happen." But if true, it also means the place can have other rooms/beds at a different price.

One reason I boycott some of the online aggregators is that I know they're dishonest. Can't possibly be true that every place in every city on any day always has "only two rooms left!"
 

Ronald Boivin

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
I recently returned from volunteering for two weeks in an Albergue. All bookings were handled by B.com. Two beds were held back from the service in case someone needed to stay over (sick) or travel snafus.

I developed a real appreciation of the convenience of the service. We were able to clean, cook, and interact with the guests without the tyranny of answering the phone. We were freed from the legal burden of safeguarding credit card details. Our “Front Desk” was available 24/7 365 should someone halfway around the world need to book a room at 3am on a whim.

Judgement of our services was based on our guest’s happiness and their feedback to the site. Not on our skill with marketing materials and misleading photos.

Sure it’s not perfect but before you assume they are taking advantage of Albergue owners know that many innkeepers appreciate their services. They do all the marketing, communications, and financials. In a time of world wide labour shortages, especially in the hospitality industry, they provide all us wandering souls a great convenience.
I needed to hear this positive info from the Albergue’s perspective. I just finished an almost three month camino where I used a variety of booking sites not all of them honourable. I finally returned to Booking.com because even it thought it still has problems, it is more trustworthy than other sites. Booking.com has much to improve but it remains an invaluable service.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I needed to hear this positive info from the Albergue’s perspective. I just finished an almost three month camino where I used a variety of booking sites not all of them honourable. I finally returned to Booking.com because even it thought it still has problems, it is more trustworthy than other sites. Booking.com has much to improve but it remains an invaluable service

What problems does it have and what does it need to improve?
 
John Brierley 2023 Camino Guide
Get your today and start planning.
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
I don't know what this is about, though.
From that link:
[Investigators]...found "reasonable grounds" to believe Booking.com may have infringed Spain's antitrust laws as well as article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which bans companies from abusing a dominant market position
Booking.com may have also exploited Spanish hotels that are financially dependent on the popular accommodation services website, it added.
The watchdog did not mention any specific examples of these alleged practices

I will keep my opinion to myself, mostly. Except to say I agree with Sabine and others who aren't cheerleading for Booking.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I have heard …
that if a place offers a room/bed on such an aggregate site, that they aren't allowed to sell that room directly.
Don't know whether that's true.

It's not true. Not only has it been mentioned in previous posts that hotels can sell beds on the websites of other OTA (online travel agencies) but also on their own hotel websites. It is useful to actually read the conditions when one makes a booking although lots of people apparently don't do this. Booking.com has a "We Price Match" policy: You can claim a refund for the difference if you happen to find your reservation cheaper on another website.
 

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
I don't understand the complaints about booking.com. Nobody is putting a gun to the head of the hotel owners and making them use the service. I've booked via phone calls, emails, and booking.com. I definitely prefer booking.com. No back and forth needed, just click and you're done. Plus, all your reservations are in one place. I have had instances of reservations by phone not being on record when I showed up, so email or booking.com is my choice for verification. I hope to do the Camino again and when I do my first choice for reservations will be booking.com. If I'm paying a little more more for this convenience, it's worth it to me.
 
Camino Jewellery
A selection of Camino Jewellery

Bristle Boy

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Like everything in life any system can be critiqued or supported.
If people do not like Booking.com then don't use it. If you do like it, then fine it works for you.
Booking.com do not have exclusive rights to offer and book all rooms in an establishment. They have only a certain allocation and the rooms available for them is reflected on the availability on their website. This does not mean they are the only rooms available.
They offer a service and that comes at a price. No one runs a business for no, or little income. It has to be commenserate and sufficient to sustain itself. That is just plain economics.
If an albergue/hostel/hotel doesn't like it then don't use it. It is a service that provides a booking that might otherwise have not taken place.
If the person needing accomodation doesn't like booking.com then don't use it. Book direct.
Like all businesses and services there is a cost.
To some the price is worth paying, to others not.
 
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Corned Beef

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
VDLP Part 2/2023
It's not true. Not only has it been mentioned in previous posts that hotels can sell beds on the websites of other OTA (online travel agencies) but also on their own hotel websites. It is useful to actually read the conditions when one makes a booking although lots of people apparently don't do this. Booking.com has a "We Price Match" policy: You can claim a refund for the difference if you happen to find your reservation cheaper on another website.

I tend to use Trivago first which is a compiler of Booking.c, Hotels.c plus others. So you can do your own price comparison without resorting to the retrospective claim for the difference.

When looking at the same place, for the same date you can see different types of room on offer at different price levels. You can get the odd situation where you get a suite for less than the room due to the "surge pricing" method these systems use. Very nice when it happens.
 

Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Time of past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
It's not true. Not only has it been mentioned in previous posts that hotels can sell beds on the websites of other OTA (online travel agencies) but also on their own hotel websites. It is useful to actually read the conditions when one makes a booking although lots of people apparently don't do this. Booking.com has a "We Price Match" policy: You can claim a refund for the difference if you happen to find your reservation cheaper on another website.
But why would you do that when you could just book through the other website?
 

pepi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last: Sept 2022
next 🤷
This is why I avoid sites like booking.com wherever possible. https://www.9news.com.au/national/d...on-rates/59171b53-4caa-41d6-9bac-4847bf00ff0a I have spoken to a motel owner in NSW who confirmed what Smith is saying, so while I may use these sites to find somewhere, I try to contact the venue directly.
In my country, Switzerland, there were the same discussions. The hotel industry lobbied and railed against B.com - unsuccessfully.
My opinion: When the opportunity arose to create a national booking platform for tourists, no one was willing to give up their short-sighted, narrow-minded attitude in order not to admit the same advantages to the competition.
The interests of their own clientele were completely ignored.
Likewise, the innkeepers along the Camino - especially the CF - could have joined forces long ago to form a common platform. But instead of thinking of the convenience of the peregrinos, each of them preferred to be an island. To complain that B.com and consorts have seized such an obvious and logical opportunity is therefore incomprehensible. It was the hospitality itself that created the booking monsters.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
But why would you do that when you could just book through the other website?
I can't speak for others but I personally could not be bothered to chase all OTA websites known to me to save one euro or even two for a booking.

The website Trivago mentioned earlier does a comparison between various online booking systems but I have never used it. Also, in order to get the "price match" reimbursement, the offers have to be absolutely identical, same room, same date, same options included, same payment conditions and so on. It is probably rarely the case.
 
Create your own ad
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
In my country, Switzerland, there were the same discussions. The hotel industry lobbied and railed against B.com - unsuccessfully.
My opinion: When the opportunity arose to create a national booking platform for tourists, no one was willing to give up their short-sighted, narrow-minded attitude in order not to admit the same advantages to the competition.
The interests of their own clientele were completely ignored.
Likewise, the innkeepers along the Camino - especially the CF - could have joined forces long ago to form a common platform. But instead of thinking of the convenience of the peregrinos, each of them preferred to be an island. To complain that B.com and consorts have seized such an obvious and logical opportunity is therefore incomprehensible. It was the hospitality itself that created the booking monsters.
It’s like Uber and the taxi industry. I don’t know how many times in the past that I called for a taxi and was told that it was on the way and then waited and waited while they obviously made other pickups or stops. Or was surprised when I got the bill for a cab ride. Uber shows exactly when the driver is going to be there and how much it’s going to cost. Does this challenge the taxi industry? Of course it does. Are there reputable cab drivers out there? Of course. But in the end consumers are going to choose the most convenient option.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I don't understand the complaints about booking.com. Nobody is putting a gun to the head of the hotel owners and making them use the service. I've booked via phone calls, emails, and booking.com. I definitely prefer booking.com. [...] If I'm paying a little more more for this convenience, it's worth it to me.
Two different kinds of complaints are aired whenever Booking.com turns up in a thread: those from the view of the customer and in particular the customer on Camino and those from the viewpoint of the accommodation owner with which we identify although most of us don't own an albergue, casa rural or small hotel on a Camino and have formed our opinion on what we read and don't know first-hand. Then there are also subcategories of the complaints: some are ethical / philosophical (how you behave and how, ergo, others ought to behave), some refer to taking in money, saving money or dispensing money (one's own and others) and so on. In a forum thread, all this gets mixed up of course.

I have started to wonder whether it has also to do with how we like to see ourselves on Camino: We don't like to see ourselves as customers in an economics context but as a different kind of being, as a pilgrim. There is also perhaps a feeling that a 15% commission is unfair; wouldn't 5% be more than enough? 😶

Any Camino albergue that is not donativo or not supported by a municipality or a parish is a commercial enterprise, even when it is a modest one, and I personally tend to think that as such it must have a business plan and sets its prices on this basis, ie prices cover all business expenses including publicity, buying software for managing bookings and for maintaining it and so on, whether done directly or through a third party like Booking.com.

The market dominance of Booking.com is an issue, just like the market dominance of any other mega-large company. In Spain, apparently about 60% of all online bookings are done via Booking.com.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
The market dominance of Booking.com is an issue, just like the market dominance of any other mega-large company
Unlike Amazon, though, Booking.com does not push small businesses out of the market as they don't compete with them by selling the same products or services. Booking.com actually brings customers to them ...
 

Bristle Boy

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Booking.com and the Uber Industry are two different entities.
Hotel/Albergue/Hostel owners know full well that Booking.com increase their visibility and capability to increase their occupation rate and sign up willingly.
The trade off is that Booking.com need an income to do so (according to this thread 15% commision).
Booking.com are not a not for profit organisation neither are they a charity.
According to many on this thread they provide a service which many appreciate.
They only exist because there is a need and the business is a symbiotic one which benefits all parties who wish to use it.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I can't speak for others but I personally could not be bothered to chase all OTA websites known to me to save one euro or even two for a booking.
I, like you, only use booking.com. I do no price comparison even though I am familiar with the names of several others in the competition. I like B's website layout and am very familiar with it. Like you have said, to save a few dollars is not worth it to me. I do not care if they only get a few rooms to advertise. If it shows they are "full" I choose another property they offer. It is the only comparison shopping I do for cost.
 
How to Successfully Prepare for Your Camino
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
I have started to wonder whether it has also to do with how we like to see ourselves on Camino: We don't like to see ourselves as customers in an economics context but as a different kind of being, as a pilgrim.
I agree and have thought of this myself. On this forum, the booking.com users are often made to feel like we are "lesser" by many "pilgrims" who feel that it is wrong to use it and we are taking money away from Spain's private albergue owners. Like @Bristle Boy has said, those owners make their own choice to be involved with the service or not.
"Convenience" is certainly the big drawing card for the majority of us.

Edit...and for those of us who do not speak Spanish, booking direct would be a much bigger hassle. My guess is that a large number on this forum who book direct with the owners know a fair amount of Spanish.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Lol, I just happened to see this on a hotel's website: Why book directly? And among their reasons given: Minimum €10 cheaper compared to booking sites. I wasn't looking for a hotel room, I just happened to see it.

Out of curiosity, I checked the offer for a room tonight: €147 on the hotel's booking webpage and €178 on Booking.com - and, as Booking.com helpfully points out, there are only 7 rooms left their site 😉! I did not check whether the rooms are exactly the same and I guess that the difference between the two prices may be smaller when it is not such a short term booking.

I daresay, however, that some claims made in this thread do not quite correspond to reality. ☺️
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
When traveling in the USA, my home country, I only use Hotels.com and I have not compared their pricing with other websites. I have, however, called the hotel directly to compare and in my personal experience😊 when doing this a few times in recent years, I have never found the quoted price to be of benefit to me. It's always been the same, or a few dollars less...or even a few more. An incentive with hotels.com is after ten nights anywhere, you get one "free" night (of the averaged out price of the others.)
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Edit...and for those of us who do not speak Spanish, booking direct would be a much bigger hassle. My guess is that a large number on this forum who book direct with the owners know a fair amount of Spanish.
And let us not forget the other side: Spanish owners of albergues, casa rurales and small hotels on The Camino who struggle with incomprehensible requests written in Google Translate Spanish or are hard to understand on the phone when guest and host don't share a common language ... we don't hear from them because, evidently, they are not posting on this forum ☺️ but the OP pointed out in the first post how much of a time-saver a third party booking service can be, plus it lets them tap into the attention of international guests from around the globe who they would not reach otherwise.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Lol, I just happened to see this on a hotel's website: Why book directly? And among their reasons given: Minimum €10 cheaper compared to booking sites. I wasn't looking for a hotel room, I just happened to see it.
Speaking of just happening on it, out of curiosity I looked at accommodation options in Granon, and found this. Booking through the 'official website' does suggest you could get a discount of almost 13.5%. Surprized? Not by that discount, but check out its absolute value.:eek: For all that I like and use Booking.com, this is one time that I might have chosen to book directly.

ps Booking.com 3518 Euro, vs hotel site 3136 Euro for a night in early May.
 
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henrythedog

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
My affair
Speaking of just happening on it, out of curiosity I looked at accommodation options in Granon, and found this. Booking through the 'official website' does suggest you could get a discount of almost 13.5%. Surprized? Not by that discount, but check out its absolute value.:eek: For all that I like and use Booking.com, this is one time that I might have chosen to book directly.
And only four rooms left!
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2023 Norte - Del Mar , Invierno
Something to keep in mind is the idea that B.com, by charging a commission, causes the bed price to go up. Someone has to take the reservation, handle the credit card, market the property etc. The hostel owner has to do this or hire someone. In which case labour costs drive up the price. To which you could retort “good, the money stays local” but that assumes someone is available to be hired. Or that the innkeeper has the time to do everything theirselves. And do it 24/7.

Running an Albergue is hard work and if they choose to offload some of it then that’s their choice.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
check out its absolute value.:eek:
You mean €3100 versus €3500 for a room and one night? It is superweird and I don't know which algorithm generates this and why. I remember a similar case some months ago. When you look at the monthly overview, you can see that their price for a room is €192 until 30 March 2023 and then it jumps to €3.5K until 31 December 2023.

So my advice would be: Don't book yet and check at a later date. :cool:
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
When you look at the monthly overview, you can see that their price for a room is €192 until 30 March 2023 and then it jumps to €3.5K until 31 December 2023.
I was so stunned by the price that came up on booking.com that I didn't do any more than check that it matched the property website for the same dates. I will take your advice on booking early. :)
 

Bristle Boy

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
Speaking of just happening on it, out of curiosity I looked at accommodation options in Granon, and found this. Booking through the 'official website' does suggest you could get a discount of almost 13.5%. Surprized? Not by that discount, but check out its absolute value.:eek: For all that I like and use Booking.com, this is one time that I might have chosen to book directly.
I'll book two.
 
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J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
I was so stunned by the price that came up on booking.com that I didn't do any more than check that it matched the property website for the same dates. I will take your advice on booking early. :)
Of course you can't reserve on Booking.com at Grañón in the Hospital San Juan Bautista, however, they will be there and open for pilgrims in need of a warm meal, place to sleep, and hospitality. Simple, but a wonderful experience for many.

We did say stay at that second booking on the same page (Mirador) last summer when we attended the 25th anniversary party of the parochial in Grañón. It was a lovely apartment with 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, washer, full kitchen and large lounge.

The 3,000+ euro one can be seen from the windows of the parochial albergue in the church and has been under renovation for many years. Guess they are finally finished!
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
those owners make their own choice to be involved with the service or not.
Yes. And it's complicated. If they're not involved, a lot of business probably goes elsewhere, where it's more convenient. So it's 'choice' rather than choice - in the same way as someone being held hostage has 'choice.' Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

Wouldn’t find lots of accommodation without it.
Really? It's easy to check Gronze or even Google maps, and then contact the places directly.

No back and forth needed,
Maybe this is more the sticking point.
Especially if you (like me) have close to nada functional Spanish beyond "Quisiera una habitación para dos noches, por favor.. " (or just struggle on phones because of failing hearing).
I get around this if I book ahead by using email or text messages. As Thomas says, it works easily:
When the language is a problem, use google translate on your phone. Once you are used to it, it is a matter of a copy/page and a swipe. Or ask hospitalero´s or Spanis speaking pilgrims to make a phonecall for you.

I'm shy on the phone - especially when I have crummy language skills. So the back and forth is stressful - but paradoxically, it's also a big part of the joy of being in a strange place. So I would miss it. In fact I just stayed someplace (in the Netherlands) where the booking and everything was online - and the check in/check out was 'self-serve,' too. All very convenient but it was soulless and awful. This is nothing to do with Booking.com though - just an aside.

I grudgingly turned into a stubborn Booking.com customer with a guilty conscience.
Fortunately we consumers probably have more choice than the businesses using booking. If convenience is a priority, we can follow that. If it's less important than other things we can vote with our feet.
It's up to us.

One thing that strikes me about this conversation is that several years ago we'd never have been having it. Booking ahead has become normalised, at least on the Camino Francés - a huge shift from a time when just walking spontaneously was what we all did. So there is a disconnect between those who still never (or rarely book) and those who can't imagine walking without booking their whole Camino ahead of time. Neither can possibly understand the experience of the other.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
One thing that strikes me about this conversation is that several years ago we'd never have been having it. Booking ahead has become normalised, at least on the Camino Francés - a huge shift from a time when just walking spontaneously was what we all did.
True. However, the issue here is not whether to book or not to book (where booking is available). It is whether to book on Booking.com (or another OTA website) or directly with the owner or manager of the accommodation.
 
Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
True. However, the issue here is not whether to book or not to book (where booking is available). It is whether to book on Booking.com (or another OTA website) or directly with the owner or manager of the accommodation.
Yes, absolutely. And those who book the whole journey are more likely to feel stressed by the chore, and thus go with the easiest way.
 

J Willhaus

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2016, 2022
One thing that strikes me about this conversation is that several years ago we'd never have been having it. Booking ahead has become normalised, at least on the Camino Francés - a huge shift from a time when just walking spontaneously was what we all did. So there is a disconnect between those who still never (or rarely book) and those who can't imagine walking without booking their whole Camino ahead of time. Neither can possibly understand the experience of the other.
Not really, there's still room for a mix. We meet pilgrims who ask if we have booked ahead and why or why not. It is a good conversation and not an uncomfortable one. We can explain our reasoning about not all places being listed and they can explain their reasons as well. The forum can turn into something adversarial at times, but sitting and really listening to each other is part of what I enjoy about the Camino.

Often those who book everything are most comfortable with that at home or have been scared into it by the accounts of others. We still wing it most of the time on the Camino, but sometimes we call or WhatsApp ahead or even occasionally use AirBNB or booking.com depending on the circumstances. I usually book hotels at home or when vacationing, but just don't always feel like I need or want to on the Camino.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
Yearly and Various 2014-2019
Via Monastica 2022
Not really, there's still room for a mix. We meet pilgrims who ask if we have booked ahead and why or why not. It is a good conversation and not an uncomfortable one
Lovely. Good to know, thanks, Janet.

Often those who book everything are most comfortable with that at home or have been scared into it by the accounts of others.
That latter part is something that hopefully changes when boots hit the ground. So I guess one good thing about Booking is that reservations can be cancelled easily, when reality proves less scary than the imagined camino.
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2010/2011/2012/2013: Madrid -Salvador -Primitivo 2014: EPW 2015: Amsterdam - SdC
And let us not forget the other side: Spanish owners of albergues, casa rurales and small hotels on The Camino who struggle with incomprehensible requests written in Google Translate Spanish or are hard to understand on the phone when guest and host don't share a common language ... we don't hear from them because, evidently, they are not posting on this forum ☺️ but the OP pointed out in the first post how much of a time-saver a third party booking service can be, plus it lets them tap into the attention of international guests from around the globe who they would not reach otherwise.
Please have a look at my post before. I am an owner of an albergue.

Most international guests on are able to book and/or walk the camino without booking. We are not on booking, about 60% of out pilgrims are not Spanish.
The idea I get from many posts here is that there is a misunderstanding (and fear?) for many readers here that a camino without booking.c is a difficult one.
As you can see at Gronze, most accomodation on the camino can not be booked on booking. Good albergues on good spots don't need booking, by which I don't mean that albergues on booking are the bad ones.
Still, choose what suits you.
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
There are advantages and disadvantages of using any booking website, just as their are advantages and disadvantages to booking direct. Neither is all good. Neither is all bad. This is true for the pilgrim as well as the albergue owners. As a pilgrim - I use a combination of the two, plus just walking and finding a place and asking if they have a bed in person.

Yes, it is great to book directly with the albergues - but there are times when doing so is less practical due to either language barriers on the phone, or delays in getting responses via email, or for other reasons. For example - I am most likely to book through booking .com when I just got to a stage town and I decide I want to walk a double stage and I know I will get in later than most people and I want a guaranteed bed because I know by the time I arrive I will be exhausted. I am less likely to call due to language barrier and I don't want to wait to see how quickly an email is responded to - because I know I have a lot further to walk. So - I book online either through a direct website if they have one - or more likely - through booking .com because it pulls up multiple options at once and I can just chose one and book. Now - if I am booking the day before? Much easier to email and wait for a reply.

Anyhow - I love that gronze .com lists all ways to reach an alberugue to make reservations (assuming they accept reservations), including their booking .com link. This way I have the option to book directly AND to book through booking .com and I can do whichever is more practical in the circumstances - that is - if I am not going to "wing it" that day.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
Please have a look at my post before. I am an owner of an albergue.
I had read you earlier post. You are obviously not one of the albergue owners I had referred to, namely those who speak only Spanish and with potential guests who speak no Spanish at all ☺️. It was a somewhat light hearted comment, trying to see a positive side from the viewpoint of owners.

The idea I get from many posts here is that there is a misunderstanding (and fear?) for many readers here that a camino without booking.c is a difficult one.
That is not at all the idea that I am getting from this thread. Besides, the thread starts with the premise that there is a positive side to using Booking.com, that it is not all bad. Numerous posters have walked already, they know what it is like and they make their choices based on their own previous Camino experience.

What does happen is that people who have never walked before and have done little to inform themselves beforehand don’t even know that a) they don’t have to book beds for 35 nights in advance before their departure from home and b) that there are other ways of finding a bed for the night than using a major OTA website. Perhaps they are those who are told not to worry and just walk? Ignorance is not always bliss … :cool:
 

Viva Terlingua

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
I think something else to think about is that not all of us use albergues. Some of us prefer private rooms (not trying to open this debate). In this case, it makes more sense to book ahead. Most pensiones, hostals, and hotels are on booking.com. PS. I'm aware that some albergues have private rooms as I have stayed in several myself.
 
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