A lot of news has been heard lately about tourists having a bad experience w.r.t Hotel booking through online Booking portals. In fact, if you search in detail in customer reviews, you will find a lot of them for every online booking portal. A few of them are really bad and have not even refunded travelers their full booking amount, thereby causing a loss to the traveler and also extra expenses for fighting the injustice at consumer forums or consumer courts. The worst part is, it happens to people with families and their entire family is stranded with no booking at odd hours of the day or night. The situation is indeed grave and anyone will advise that its best avoid “such situations” at any cost. But for the untravelled or not so frequent traveler, it might be really difficult to find a way out of this mess.
Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
There are a few tips that I will give you, which will prevent this from happening. And you will be spared this injustice. These may look small points, but in the long term will help you out and save you from any trouble.
- Always check the latest reviews of the hotel or property you are booking. Check all the reviews in the past 6 months. That will give you an idea as to how the hotel and its facilities are and how it treats its customers. Even if there was an issue, you will know if it was corrected or resolved in any manner. Any recurring issues will be complained about repeatedly by the customers. I make it a point to read all the bad reviews first, so I get a mental preparation of what this property offers.
- Check reviews of the same property on at least one other booking portal. It’s possible that reviews are rigged to fool people. I have seen hotels giving5% discount in return for positive reviews against their bookings.
- Always try to book a property with full refund until one day before. This gives you ample time at hand to cancel if you found any issue or have to change plans at the last moment
- Once the property is booked, ensure you send a copy of the booking to the property and your contact number. In addition, also call them to confirm the same information and ask them to confirm it by replying to your email. This is a valid proof in the court of law, but that much later. At this point, you have informed and spoken to the property and so they can the booking portal cannot deny you service or accommodation. I always make it a point to also inform them about my estimated time of arrival.
- Also on the day of travel, if there are any changes to your plan, inform the hotel on phone as well as email. Most properties have a policy of marking your booking as “no show” if you do not show up by the required time. Most also close their front desks at 10-11pm.
- Keep the number of the property, the booking portal customer service and also the contact manager ready for any issues. If you are going to arrive late or early, you have to convey all the specific information to them so that they are prepared for it. Remember, do not give them any excuses to fool you.
- Hotels are known to overbook just like airlines. I am not sure of the logic here as passengers can be accommodated on a different flight but in case of properties, one the rooms are booked, they are booked and there is no option available.
- Always select the option to pay at the property. This way your money is safe with you and you do not have to do any running around if there is an issue and you didn’t get any refund. This will save you from a lot of trouble. It’s best to only book at properties with part payment or pay at the hotel option.
- Check the location of the property on Google Maps. If possible, confirm the same with the property and tell them to send the location via WhatsApp as well just to confirm. It happened to me twice that the property was not where it listed on Google Maps due to some mistake and I had to roam about for an hour to find it. Trust me it’s not a good way to check-in when you are already very tired due to travel.
- If you are traveling in a foreign location, translate the address in the local language, otherwise, people won’t be able to help you if English is not widely spoken. Booking.com portal gives you this option.
- Make a list of all the facilities promised to you at the time of booking. Any lack of service will entail you to an upgrade/ discount/ reimbursement. I had once checked into a 3-star property and had requested a non-smoking room. However, the room that they gave me was a smoking one with a very distinct smell of smoke. I immediately complained and as they were full on that day, they upgraded me to a larger room for free.
Stay clear of some booking portals if they already have a bad name. Use only those portals with a relatively safer booking record. All these tips will save you from a lot of trouble. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry.