Booking.com Made Me Hate My Hotel
Here's What Hotels Can Do About It
By Sherry Heyl Founder & Consultant, Amplified Concepts | September 03, 2017
My 22-year-old son sat across from me at the restaurant telling me his plans for the summer. There was going to be a music festival in NYC and Frank Ocean was performing. He and his friend from high school were going to drive up from our home in Atlanta, GA and visit some friends in NJ for a few days and then stay in NYC for one night for the concert.
"Which night?" I asked. "The night before you go to the festival or the night of the festival?" It was at that moment he realized there was a glitch in his plan. In order to get to the festival early, he would need to stay the night before the festival. But where would he go the night of the festival? He was going to need to book a hotel room for 2 nights in NYC. This was not going to be in his budget. I have 5 clients based in NYC that I have not seen in-person in awhile, so I decided I could bail him out of this situation. I offered to split a room with him, of course he knew that meant it would be a nicer hotel as well, and he agreed.
Surveys show 85% of consumers say they book with an OTA "to get the best price". I use OTAs to see what my options are in the area I am traveling to as well as for the flexibility to change plans. I logged into hotels.com which is my go-to site and booked a room for Thursday through Saturday. As always I sought out a reservation that allowed for free cancellation and pay at the hotel, even if it meant paying more.
The next day I contacted my clients to let them know I would be in town and to schedule a meeting. Unbelievably 4 out of 5 of my clients were out of town those days. No big deal. I wouldn't mind getting lost in NYC for a few days. I began to plan out what I wanted to do and see in the city. I logged on to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert to see if I could score tickets to be in the studio audience. I could, but only for the Wednesday night before I was arriving.
I reserved my tickets and went to change my hotel reservation. The hotel I booked did not have availability to add the Wednesday night. I cancelled my reservation and went to seek out a better deal. I had seen the commercials and ads for booking.com but never used it. Every ad promotes free cancellations. Even the emails I receive from booking.com promotes free cancellations in the header. I decided to see what rooms they had available. There was hotel right around the corner from the Ed Sullivan theater. There was a hotel right around the corner from the Ed Sullivan theater. Room booked.
My confirmation arrived in my inbox and there I read that this hotel did not offer free cancellation. I am sure it was in the fine print when I was booking the hotel, but I did not look for that fine print because of the way booking.com constantly promotes free cancellations. When I use hotels.com I know to look for that specific offering and I know I will probably pay more, but the peace of mind is worth it. I was stuck with this reservation. What if something came up? I felt trapped. I felt anxious. I felt tricked.