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In Defense of Booking Com

peregrina2000

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I am also in the camp that tries to avoid booking.com. But at some point, the convenience factor is just too great, though this happens mainly while traveling as a tourist. Just recently, I took a two week drive around Portugal, mostly in small towns. I wanted to have reservations. I tried contacting places directly. Most of those who responded wanted a bank transfer as a deposit. That is a real problem for US travelers, because our banks haven’t gotten the memo that explains that most of the world operates this way. I get a few free transfers every year and then the charge is $35 or more. Others wanted my CC number, sent to them via email. That’s another deal breaker, because that’s not secure. So I fell back on the ease of booking with booking and was careful to explain why to the owners of the small places where I stayed once I got there.

I will say that, to a one, they told me they feel they HAVE to use booking. It is not a weighing of pros and cons, it’s the sense that there is a gun to their head and they will lose a lot of business if they are not on it.

One owner told me that he gives booking customers the “worst” rooms, but that since I had explained myself and since my husband had limited mobility he would make an exception for me. I later asked in a couple of places whether that was their practice as well, and it seemed to be the case. It is true that some (mostly large) hotels distinguish rooms on the basis of the amenities offered, but some of these small places just charge one price, and for those the booking customers got the less attractive room — the smaller room, the room without a balcony, the darker room, etc.

I think this is much less an issue for big chain hotels. I had made reservations for two nights in Porto and when we arrived, I told them we wanted to add a night. They told me just to do it via booking that it was easier for them.

Not sure this adds much to the discussion, but I do wrestle with this when I travel.
 
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Viva Terlingua

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I will say that, to a one, they told me they feel they HAVE to use booking. It is not a weighing of pros and cons, it’s the sense that there is a gun to their head and they will lose a lot of business if they are not on it.
Same thing could be said of accepting credit cards. Or having a website. Or providing wifi for your guests. As consumer expectations evolve businesses must adapt or fade away. It's that way in any industry.
 

jeanineonthecamino

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Time of past OR future Camino
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One owner told me that he gives booking customers the “worst” rooms, but that since I had explained myself and since my husband had limited mobility he would make an exception for me. I later asked in a couple of places whether that was their practice as well, and it seemed to be the case. It is true that some (mostly large) hotels distinguish rooms on the basis of the amenities offered, but some of these small places just charge one price, and for those the booking customers got the less attractive room — the smaller room, the room without a balcony, the darker room, etc.
My opinion - but to punish someone for using a booking service is not cool. Not everyone knows how to reach out directly to owners. Not everyone knows that it costs owners to use booking companies.
 

Viva Terlingua

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Partial Frances (2018)
Full Frances 2022 (May-Jun)
My opinion - but to punish someone for using a booking service is not cool. Not everyone knows how to reach out directly to owners. Not everyone knows that it costs owners to use booking companies.
Not very good business either as those people will be leaving reviews on booking.com
 

pepi

Active Member
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Last: Sept 2022
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I come back on my earlier comment in this thread:
What would it take, to set up a website with a Magento shop for payment by CC and PayPal?
A simple over the thumb calculation:
(a) 50 participating Albergues with 1000 bookings annually @ 12 Euro per bed = 600K € @ 10% commission = 60K €.
(b) 50K reservations by pilgrims, each one paying 2€ per transaction = 100K €.
Total revenue 160K €.
Ideally, someone with an existing site like Gronze, or, why not, caminodesantiago.me, should look into this. It would create a handsome side-income.
I don't know Ivar's age, but at 60, I would do it, pity I have 20 more than that.

PS: A crowdfunding with some early-bird perks surely would generate enough start-up capital...!!!
 
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One owner told me that he gives booking customers the “worst” rooms [...] I later asked in a couple of places whether that was their practice as well, and it seemed to be the case. [...] Not sure this adds much to the discussion
It does add to the discussion: This may perhaps change my mind and make me opt for direct booking instead of OTA booking. On the other hand, not all rooms can be the worst rooms, and the actual worst ones may be given to other OTA bookers and not to me ... ☺️

Now I am wondering about the two rooms I had been given (at two different locations on the way to Santiago) where the window of my room allowed me only to view a solid wall a few inches away from my face. One of them was in a hotel in Astorga, and out of curiosity I had a look on their website. First thing I see: Congratulations! You are about to book at the best rate! Up to 7 € cheaper than on Booking. And indeed, a quick verification shows that online booking of a double room for one night on December 2-3 on the hotel website is 7 € cheaper than on Booking.com which amounts to a difference of 8-9%. So at least some hotels do charge at least part of the commission to their OTA guests ...
 
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jeanineonthecamino

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2021, Norte/Primitivo 2022, VF 2023
I have no problem with this. Somebody has to get the worst room, and @Kathar1na has another good point...
But nothing says you have to give all the worst rooms to those who book through booking sites. Why not simply hold off giving the worst room to the last to arrive or in the order the rooms were booked instead of discriminating based on which site someone booked from. It is one thing when you advertise rooms differently and someone knowingly selects the worst room to save money. It is another to be discriminated against simply because you used a booking site instead of booking directly.
 
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I am also in the camp that tries to avoid booking.com. But at some point, the convenience factor is just too great, though this happens mainly while traveling as a tourist. Just recently, I took a two week drive around Portugal, mostly in small towns. I wanted to have reservations. I tried contacting places directly. Most of those who responded wanted a bank transfer as a deposit. That is a real problem for US travelers, because our banks haven’t gotten the memo that explains that most of the world operates this way. I get a few free transfers every year and then the charge is $35 or more. Others wanted my CC number, sent to them via email. That’s another deal breaker, because that’s not secure. So I fell back on the ease of booking with booking and was careful to explain why to the owners of the small places where I stayed once I got there.

I will say that, to a one, they told me they feel they HAVE to use booking. It is not a weighing of pros and cons, it’s the sense that there is a gun to their head and they will lose a lot of business if they are not on it.

One owner told me that he gives booking customers the “worst” rooms, but that since I had explained myself and since my husband had limited mobility he would make an exception for me. I later asked in a couple of places whether that was their practice as well, and it seemed to be the case. It is true that some (mostly large) hotels distinguish rooms on the basis of the amenities offered, but some of these small places just charge one price, and for those the booking customers got the less attractive room — the smaller room, the room without a balcony, the darker room, etc.

I think this is much less an issue for big chain hotels. I had made reservations for two nights in Porto and when we arrived, I told them we wanted to add a night. They told me just to do it via booking that it was easier for them.

Not sure this adds much to the discussion, but I do wrestle with this when I travel.
No "worsrt" rooms in my experience.
On the Via Francigena last month we used booking.com., requesting rooms with window views, balconies, or terraces as the case may be. We were always obliged for no extra charge.🙂 Here are a few of our views, often sharing a bottle of wine...wonderful.
Screenshot_20221128-171619~2.png Screenshot_20221128-170735~2.png Screenshot_20221128-171214~2.png Screenshot_20221128-170444~2.png
Screenshot_20221128-175243~2.png Screenshot_20221128-175149~2.png Screenshot_20221128-174755~2.png
 
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So I fell back on the ease of booking with booking and was careful to explain why to the owners of the small places where I stayed once I got there.
Why must you need to have a conversation to explain about your decision to use booking.com...why must you be "careful"?
 
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dougfitz

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There was an interesting article on the ABC's Radio National this morning on the impact of price-parity clauses. You can find it here. Reference was made to work being done by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the Digital platform services enquiry 2020-2025, which as its name suggests, is still underway. There have been a number of interesting reports, which can be accessed from the enquiry home page link above.

In looking at all of that, I found a proposed text from earlier this year for changes to the EU Digital Markets Act, here, that looks like it will stop the practice of digital platform service providers (eBay, Amazon, Booking.com, etc, etc) from implementing price parity provisions in their business terms. Clearly that text is still in an unapproved state, so I am wondering if it has progressed since it was released in July.
 
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Time of past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
wondering if it has progressed since it was released in July
Fwiw, both the Digital Markets Act and the Digital Services Act entered into force in November 2022. The various measures and rules will become applicable over a longer period of time. The timelines are illustrated here:
 
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WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
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.
We were not on any online service, and not even in some of the guidebooks. But we still had to help pilgrims find something else many nights because we were already full. So I think they do have a real choice.
 

pepi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Last: Sept 2022
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I am also in the camp that tries to avoid booking.com. But at some point, the convenience factor is just too great, though this happens mainly while traveling as a tourist. Just recently, I took a two week drive around Portugal, mostly in small towns. I wanted to have reservations. I tried contacting places directly. Most of those who responded wanted a bank transfer as a deposit. That is a real problem for US travelers, because our banks haven’t gotten the memo that explains that most of the world operates this way. I get a few free transfers every year and then the charge is $35 or more. Others wanted my CC number, sent to them via email. That’s another deal breaker, because that’s not secure. So I fell back on the ease of booking with booking and was careful to explain why to the owners of the small places where I stayed once I got there.

I will say that, to a one, they told me they feel they HAVE to use booking. It is not a weighing of pros and cons, it’s the sense that there is a gun to their head and they will lose a lot of business if they are not on it.

One owner told me that he gives booking customers the “worst” rooms, but that since I had explained myself and since my husband had limited mobility he would make an exception for me. I later asked in a couple of places whether that was their practice as well, and it seemed to be the case. It is true that some (mostly large) hotels distinguish rooms on the basis of the amenities offered, but some of these small places just charge one price, and for those the booking customers got the less attractive room — the smaller room, the room without a balcony, the darker room, etc.

I think this is much less an issue for big chain hotels. I had made reservations for two nights in Porto and when we arrived, I told them we wanted to add a night. They told me just to do it via booking that it was easier for them.

Not sure this adds much to the discussion, but I do wrestle with this when I travel.
Some News in Switzerland today on the subject:

At the beginning of December, the Swiss Federal Council lifted the so-called gagging agreements between hotels and booking platforms such as Booking.com. Now, hotels and other lodging establishments are officially allowed to offer their guests lower room rates than the online platforms. Previously, they were prohibited from doing so.
The first hoteliers are already advertising lower prices on their websites to attract customers who book their rooms directly. But there are different views in the industry: One hotelier in Basel, for example, reports that he continues to cooperate closely with booking platforms and complies with their specifications. Among other things, this has the advantage that such establishments are placed more prominently on online portals and thus receive more attention.
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
I am satisfaced with b.com for my occasional hostals or private chambers in albergues, when I am on the mood to rest a day from collective dorms. It has worked fine. Obviously, I prefer to make my reservations by phone or e-mail, when available.
Some places have local or "alternative" systems of online reservation, but I am not comfortable with the idea of giving my data to unknown operators.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I sometimes leave reviews but hardly ever read them. I do give a cursory glance to the rating score and I think that's a fairly accurate indicator of the sort of place it is.
I find the rating score very useful especially when there are a significant number of reviews, …a few hundred plus. I always sort on the newest verbatims! They is plenty of crazy stuff such as ‘ I paid €10 for a room and there was no room service’, and I find often expectations are too high, but you can pick up quite a of of general themes, good and bad. Post my stay I find my views very closely correlate with the overall gist of the reviews I have read!
 
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TravellingMan2022

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Norte
I am satisfaced with b.com for my occasional hostals or private chambers in albergues, when I am on the mood to rest a day from collective dorms. It has worked fine. Obviously, I prefer to make my reservations by phone or e-mail, when available.
Some places have local or "alternative" systems of online reservation, but I am not comfortable with the idea of giving my data to unknown operators.
Why would you prefer to make a reservation by phone or email when you can do so online?
 
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Why would you prefer to make a reservation by phone or email when you can do so online?
All of the below. What @Tincatinker mentions may be a generational shift - not everyone grew up with the internet available at our fingertips every moment, or at all. For some of us, a direct connection is both more familiar and preferable.
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).
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
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.
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.
But don´t expect to find the nice pilgrimsplaces on booking, they have no reason to do so
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””.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I prefer personal interactions. Besides, I am aware that b.com charges the albergues a significant % for each reservation. Or. maybe, as commented above, it is just a generational thing.
Thank you! Yes for me personally a generational thing. I’m not really concerned with the personal interaction or the commercial arrangements between the two organisations.
 
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Harland2019

Active Member
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I am just a little surprised at the number of posts on this topic. Walkers/pilgrims/holidaymakers have the option to use Booking.com or not, equally the room providers have the option to place their rooms on Booking.com or not. However I am a simple sole - well my wife tells me I am!:D
 

Bristle Boy

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I am just a little surprised at the number of posts on this topic. Walkers/pilgrims/holidaymakers have the option to use Booking.com or not, equally the room providers have the option to place their rooms on Booking.com or not. However I am a simple sole - well my wife tells me I am!:D
There is something fishy about this post 😅
Seriously, I could not agree more with your sentiments.
 
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TravellingMan2022

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Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
I am just a little surprised at the number of posts on this topic. Walkers/pilgrims/holidaymakers have the option to use Booking.com or not, equally the room providers have the option to place their rooms on Booking.com or not. However I am a simple sole - well my wife tells me I am!:D

My wife was right! Can't spell either!:D
We tend to carp on about lots of things of this forum!
 
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I'm outta here. Other fish to fry.
👋🤭
Ok! You've already served up a whole kettle of fish on post #127 anyway🤭...I'll follow you out, but will say these final few posts have been the funniest "off-fishe" string I've seen in awhile, including your last one.😅
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF: 2001, 02, 04, 14. Ourense to Santiago 2019.
Ok! You've already served up a whole kettle of fish on post #127 anyway🤭...I'll follow you out, but will say these final few posts have been the funniest "off-fishe" string I've seen in awhile, including your last one.😅

Darn!

Too late to go fishing.

Sometimes you don’t catch a thing.
 

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)
Why would you prefer to make a reservation by phone or email when you can do so online?
For a start, it is one way to see if a property is prepared to offer a better price when price parity clauses preclude them from advertising these on their own websites and associated booking engines. In Australia, at least, it is an agreed mechanism that properties can offer cheaper rates on face-to-face transactions. Whether they will or not is another matter, but one can but try.

See this recent The Conversation article on where this is moving in Australia.

Walkers/pilgrims/holidaymakers have the option to use Booking.com or not, equally the room providers have the option to place their rooms on Booking.com or not.
This is true, but also fairly simplistic. Gatekeeper sites like Booking.com, Amazon, etc massively distort the market to their advantage, which generally means that there will be some combination of buyers paying more and vendors getting less than they might otherwise. Individually, we are often prepared to accept that, but that doesn't make it right or just.
 

TravellingMan2022

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Norte
For a start, it is one way to see if a property is prepared to offer a better price when price parity clauses preclude them from advertising these on their own websites and associated booking engines. In Australia, at least, it is an agreed mechanism that properties can offer cheaper rates on face-to-face transactions. Whether they will or not is another matter, but one can but try.

See this recent The Conversation article on where this is moving in Australia.


This is true, but also fairly simplistic. Gatekeeper sites like Booking.com, Amazon, etc massively distort the market to their advantage, which generally means that there will be some combination of buyers paying more and vendors getting less than they might otherwise. Individually, we are often prepared to accept that, but that doesn't make it right or just.
Thank you very much! Must admit never really considered calling hotels / hostels /albergues to negotiate! But I will in future!
 

SabsP

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Thank you very much! Must admit never really considered calling hotels / hostels /albergues to negotiate! But I will in future!

Please do! The hotels will love this approach.
On my most recent Camino I got us a double room for 48 € by calling directly instead of the 65 € barkingdotcom asked.
And when we arrived the hotelier was ever so nice to compliment me with my broken Spanish...😊
 
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Flog

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I use booking.com for the occasional one night stay and I don't mind that it usually means paying a little over the odds for the convenience, it's such an easy site to navigate. But if it's more than one night I'll always try to make direct contact to negotiate.

This morning I went to book a 5 night stay in an apartment in Aviles, €460 on booking.com. I contacted the vendor by WhatsApp and we agreed on €350 cash on arrival. I asked for an email with confirmation and if he wouldn't mind taking down the listing and he was happy to do both. This gives me some peace of mind.
 
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This morning I went to book a 5 night stay in an apartment in Aviles, €460 on booking.com. I contacted the vendor by WhatsApp and we agreed on €350 cash on arrival. I asked for an email with confirmation and if he wouldn't mind taking down the listing and he was happy to do both. This gives me some peace of mind.
I think the owner will receive less € from you than if you had booked through the booking website "if" the standard 15% commission applies.
You were able to negotiate directly at a savings to you, but doubt it benefited him monetarily, although I'm sure he is appreciative that the room is rented.

Edit- We all prefer to save money where we can; nothing wrong with that, but I don't think the proprieter always comes out ahead unless they do not list on booking websites.
 
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Flog

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I think the owner will receive less € from you than if you had booked through the booking website "if" the standard 15% commission applies.
You were able to negotiate directly at a savings to you, but doubt it benefited him monetarily, although I'm sure he is appreciative that the room is rented.

Edit- We all prefer to save money where we can; nothing wrong with that, but I don't think the proprieter always comes out ahead unless they do not list on booking websites.
Yes possibly.. it was more of a saving than I expected, about 25% or thereabouts. Normally, for cash I would expect about 10% or so.
I'm not complaining..
 

BombayBill

Still Learning
Time of past OR future Camino
September 2023 Norte - Del Mar , Invierno
Yes possibly.. it was more of a saving than I expected, about 25% or thereabouts. Normally, for cash I would expect about 10% or so.
I'm not complaining..
I suppose some owners may prefer the direct method as the revenue stream is less apparent to the government’s all seeing taxing eye. So it’s not so much a rejection of b. Com but rather a cash enhancement scheme.

When I started this thread I wasn’t expecting such an exhaustive examination of the subject. 148 posts!!! But now with my latest thoughts on the matter I’m trying slyly to re- animate the subject in order that I’m the cause of the blog reaching 1 million posts.
 
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Flog

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I suppose some owners may prefer the direct method as the revenue stream is less apparent to the government’s all seeing taxing eye. So it’s not so much a rejection of b. Com but rather a cash enhancement scheme.
I didn't want to make that assumption. It could also be that as a small operator he prefers the simplicity of dealing direct with the customer rather than having to deal with everything through a third party, even if it appears less profitable.
 
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peregrina2000

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€460 on booking.com. I contacted the vendor by WhatsApp and we agreed on €350 cash on arrival. I asked for an email with confirmation and if he wouldn't mind taking down the listing and he was happy to do both. This gives me some peace of mind.

The cash payment means the owner doesn’t have to pay the credit card commission, and it also allows less scrupulous owners to avoid paying taxes. I’m not saying this is a great money-maker for the owner, but a cash transaction will be more profitable.

450 minus the 15% booking fee - 397

397 minus the approx 3% credit card fee (about 12) - 385

385 minus the approximately 25% Spanish tax (about 95) - 290 in the owner’s pocket

Whether the owner prefers to deal with booking.com is one thing, but when an owner makes a cash deal it is frequently for tax avoidance purposes.
 

Bristle Boy

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Time of past OR future Camino
2022
I didn't want to make that assumption. It could also be that as a small operator he prefers the simplicity of dealing direct with the customer rather than having to deal with everything through a third party, even if it appears less profitable.
Knowing nothing of the commercial or business practices involved it might have something to do with the speed of payment through b.com
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Knowing nothing of the commercial or business practices involved it might have something to do with the speed of payment through b.com
I’m not talking about using booking vs. not using booking, I am talking about owners who offer better prices when you pay them in cash rather than with a credit card. Anything more than a few percentage points of difference suggests it’s about more than avoiding the credit card charges. I have walked with a Spanish law professor who always insists on getting a receipt when he pays his bills. Every time we were dealing with an owner who wanted cash, the owner balked at giving us a receipt. I am certainly not saying that all owners who prefer cash are doing it to avoid taxes, but the odds are high. If you are involved in a cash transaction, see if the establishment gives you an official printout with business name, etc. Or if they just put the money in the cash register or in their pocket.

In fact, Spain has passed a law prohibiting all commercial cash transactions over 1,000 €. Tax avoidance is a huge problem in Spain. And cash transactions are a very big part of that.
 

dougfitz

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Time of past OR future Camino
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
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