Hi Community members - I’m curious to know what platforms people are using to book accommodation. The most popular travel websites in Australia include big names like Booking.com, Airbnb and Agoda, plus airline sites.
But, do you use these sorts of platforms when planning a trip? Why or why not? If not, how do you prefer to arrange a stay away from home? Thanks!
We start with Booking.com and find what we like, check Tripadvisor, and then use either the corporate/hotel site direct when they guarantee lowest rates of the day, or for domestic (and sometimes international) ring the accommodation direct. For the latter sometimes they offer better prices, sometimes a room upgrade, sometimes nothing, and on occasion have referred us back to the ‘platfoms’.
While difficult to validate there are anecdotal reports* some hotels assign the less desirable rooms to those having the lowest rates when they can. If everything else is equal and two customers both get $200 rooms, one via a platform and the other direct, just maybe the one who booked direct will get the better room, if there was a difference, be it quieter, larger, better view, away from the lift, whatever.
Why? Convenience and they usually include all the accommodation as a survey, but try not to use any ‘middlemen’ in case anything goes amiss.
* from a day manager at an IHG property in the US.
We try not to book accommodation on platforms as I know that accommodation providers pay 15-18% commission to the platforms who are always based overseas and do not pay Australian tax. We do use Tripadviser to see what our options are & see what other travelers say then try to go direct to the hotel website & book direct. We do book local daily tours on Tripadviser as it is convenient.
We are members of Accor & Intercontinental so if we book direct with them get some benefits like late checkout & free wifi plus the same or cheaper room prices.
I used to have a 31 unit accommodation near Cairns & we knew we should look after people who booked direct, especially if they may be repeat travelers. So if there was a choice, the direct customers got the better rooms within the same room types.
Agreed, hotels appreciate it you go direct to them and will offer a better rate. The OTA’s like hotels.com and other (Microsoft) Expedia brands also collect GST on Australian stays but do not remit it claiming they are not an Australian legal entity.
There’s a variety of references on the web to gst and travel booking agencies arrangements. There have been a number of ATO determinations and legislative changes since the gst was introduced.
For clarity which particular brands by direct example and types of bookings are being referred to?
Note Priceline’s brands, Expedia’s brands, (we should include other options such as Qantas, Virgin, Amex etc travel services) can deliver travel and accommodation on a direct, agency, reseller or other basis? Assume all are registered for gst purposes to be able to claim input credits, and therefore need to provide BAS statements. There after up to the ATO and our legislators.
I research options from various sources, usually Trip advisor/Google reviews etc, then view prices on platforms such as Agoda/Expedia/Booking.com and the like.
I always book accomodation direct with the provider as I’m wary of fees added by platforms (having been caught out before), or inflated prices in lieu of fees. I also like to establish a direct relationship with an accomodation provider for a more personal experience.
I only ever book direct with the provider, I booked hotel accommodation in the UK by email and everything went smoothly including my early arrival. I do not want to pay someone to be the middle man and I am unsure of where they are from or who they really are. I have used local tourist offices for accommodation recommendations when in rural WA.
OT but of note Bookings Holdings and Expedia Group operate through many brands. Some will be familiar to regular travellers, some not so.
EG AGODA is owned by Bookings Holdings. Wotif is owned by Expedia Group. Etc etc.
Who is competing with who and where the benefits go is for a different discussion/topic.
Agreed. I don’t book via any of the platforms since they exist to make a profit and I avoid fees; however I am happy to exploit them to obtain information regarding options, facilities, and, to a lesser extent, opinions of other travellers. They all seem to have more or less the same information (as expected when all related brands), so I think equally ‘reliable’, as far as any marketing can be trusted!
(I’m always somewhat sceptical of negative user reviews, especially when they represent only a minority compared to favourable ones, having once been witness to really nasty rude behaviour by a person staying at my accommodation and later dining in a local restaurant, who then went on to write 1-star Trip Advisor reviews of both. Their reviews were factually incorrect and potentially damaging to both establishments. I wrote counter reviews explaining what I witnessed - both reviews were subsequently withdrawn )
Had an awful experience with Expedia. Impossible to get a refund, despite plenty of evidence that we were owed one. I’m assuming now that we had been dealing with AI chat bot, was a total merri go round of months of inane replies and ‘conversations’ going nowhere. Finally got a refund through our bank credit card. I’ll never use Expedia again.
I got caught with a Expedia booking that ended up being in US dollars not AU dollars. I complained and got a refund based on explaining the breach of Australian requirements to have the cost clearly marked in AU dollars. It took some time for the refund as I had to go formal with them before they would budge. So now I always insist on knowing the cost in AU dollars before committing to a booking through any of the online sites. If I can get the pricing in AU dollars, I contact the business directly who often offer a discount based on not using an online portal.