Searching for the Perfect Hotel: Hotels.com vs. Booking.com
When it comes to web design, these sites both approach the user with simple, basically designed search experience void of any distracting flash and video.
Although with Hotels.com, you typically have to click through a series of advertisements before you can actually begin looking at potential hotel options. And, frankly, the loud color scheme of the Hotels.com homepage seems unnecessarily hard on the eyes when compared to the nice whitespace and palette on Booking.com.
Once you enter a few search criteria, both sites seem return results with similar speeds. Although, the amount of search results each site returns varies greatly from destination to destination. Try to find a hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, for example, and Booking.com only returns 84 listings. The same search on Hotels.com gives you 184 potential accommodations. Neither, however, appear to constantly produce more options for browsers than the other.
In the end, you will do best to utilize each site’s unique features to help determine where to find the best hotel for your vacation. These include filters, reviews, and available perks.
Search Filters: A Hotels.com Landslide Victory
Even the most minor of searches returns an overwhelming amount of potential accommodations from which to choose. Who doesn’t want the speed and efficiency of narrowing down those thousands of search results with a few quick clicks? If filtering by search criteria were a game, Hotels.com would be the MVP.
Hotels.com makes tailoring your search results simple and easy. First, the grey search bar at the top of the page follows you as you scroll through hundreds or thousands hotels. You may get to the 200th listing and decide babysitting services seem pretty essential to your next getaway. No problem. Simply, modify the list of categories on the bar and narrow down your options.
What’s more, the line of categorical boxes along the top your long list of potential accommodations just represent the tip of the iceberg in terms of how specific you can tailor your search on Hotels.com. Clicking “All Filters” reveals a well-design set of nested lists of everything from landmarks to accessibility features. The result is a manageable selection experience for shoppers on Hotels.com.
Alas, Booking.com takes the long, longer, and longest list approach to filtering. What’s worse, the company fixes the position of these options to the left hand side of the hotel search results. The light blue links appear to blur into each other as you attempt to narrow things down.
Turns out, these are also nest-able if you click on the little orange triangle. But because these appear in long-form first, you are left feeling bombarded, instead of welcomed to utilize the advanced selections.
However, where Booking.com fails in terms of filters, it succeeds in terms of customer feedback.
A Point for Booking.com: Verified Reviews vs. Those You Can’t Use
Booking.com proudly advertises its collection of more than 70,000 reviews from “verified customers.” It’s impossible to prove whether or not the comments come from actual people. However, unlike Hotels.com, one can easily spot a negative or lukewarm review. We all know that not every hotel experience results in positive feedback, so Booking.com’s transparency comes as a pleasant surprise.
The site even posts reviews of restaurants in your destination city through Open Table, a site that allows you to make dining reservations online.
Hotels.com also collects reviews and shares Trip Advisor feedback with people as they browse accommodation listings. Yet, most of these appear to be overwhelming positive. At the risk of sounding cynical, this should give pause to anyone looking to make a reservation. Gaining some understanding of the location’s drawbacks helps vacationers maintain realistic expectations, and, consequently, feel more satisfied with their experience.
Best Price Guarantees from Hotels.com and Booking.com
The good news is that both sites encourage customers to shop around before committing to a specific deal through their Best Price Guarantee Programs, users can find the same hotel during the same time period but at a cheaper price, and these companies offer to match those deals.
However, keep in mind that the companies do not appear to make this process easy for everyone. Booking.com tacks various stipulations on such claims. For example, the claim must be made “immediately” upon discovery, and the company must verify the other offer still exists and is bookable when it checks the claim. The problem, obviously, is that you really do not have control over the latter, right? When they check and whether or not they can confirm is completely out of our hands.
Another strange thing is that Hotels.com reminds you of this option as you move throughout the site, but Booking.com seems to hide it. However, the company does also offer customers this opportunity as well. You will find the information within its terms and conditions page online. Best Price Guarantee is linked within the text, and leads customers to specific qualifications.
The Importance of Due Diligence
Although travel booking sites appear to offer a worry-free, at-home shopping experience, those who utilize these sites frequently will advise new customers to always communicate with the hotel directly to confirm reservations, prices, and policies. Take matters into your own hands and vet the awesomeness of that deal you just claimed. Don’t show up in another country with fido without making sure the pup’s presence is acceptable, and don’t rely on any site to handle every aspect of a refund.
Hotels.com provides hotel contact numbers right on the listing. With Booking.com, it seems a little less obvious. You may have to open an extra browser window and search for it.
Most likely, the sites will work these details out just fine, but, especially when large amounts of money are on the line, you would be better off knowing everything is straightened out yourself, right?