And also how booking.com deceives clients
Such a terrible company.
I agree with the “unneccessary urgency” observation: this is a clever trick. I never knew the actual last time was shown in the tooltip. However, I do like the fact that this urgency allows you to make quick decisions and book sooner: otherwise, you might spend a lot of time pondering your choices.
Perhaps this post should be taken with a grain of salt: the author clearly booked a hotel which was not nice. However some guests prefer to stay in these kinds of “party-goer” hotels and might give a very high rating. So it seems fair that Booking shows these positive reviews:
9.6: “Great location for canal street night out”
10: “… Had an unforgettable after party”
10: “Great place to stay, especially to party”
It seems that guests that go to sleep at only 4 o’clock don’t mind the bar below. The blog author finally reconciles and takes the blame: “To be fair, this is more of the hotel’s fault than Booking’s. Also, I should have read the fine print.”
I think the point of that anecdote was that the categories skew ratings very high. It’s almost impossible for a hotel to get less than 2-3 stars as they’ll all have at least some redeeming qualities. With a traditional 5 star rating system you can bet there would be a lot of 1 star reviews due to the noise, but that’s not the case here because the staff happens to be friendly. It also seems like booking.com only displays the most positive reviews (which is common practice on many sites.. but still).
They don’t (we use them constantly). You can also filter reviews by guest type like family, business traveler etc. to find those that are more likely from those with similar expectations. It is always a good idea to ignore best reviews and check those with lower scores (can filter on that too).
Reviews are not completely reliable (are they anywhere?) and booking certainly uses a lot of dark patterns, but I don’t think it is that difficult to have a generally positive experience. Unless my wife and I are so much luckier or more capable than others, which I doubt.
I’ve had much worse experience with TripAdvisor than Booking as far as being able to narrow down reviews to “people like me”.
I wish there were things similar to adblock, but for other annoying bits of the internet. I could imagine “AnnoyanceBlocker” which might have features like:
Other stuff like that. I have neither the will nor expertise to make an extension to do that, but, y’know, free idea.
Maybe a simple uBlock/adBlock ruleset can do most of that job. For Booking.com, you can get rid of a lot of cruft with simple rules, e.g.:
! hide "last booked X ago" rollovers
! hide "just booked!" alerts
! hide sold-out properties
Maintaining and updating this would a very boring job though (something to script). In the end, it could be argued that Booking should pay the volunteers that try to make their website better. :p
Are there any decent alternatives?
I just use Google (which has full integration with these sites), hotel tonight, or the hotel’s website/phone line (they’ll usually price match).
These days going directly to the hotel’s site is usually the same price or cheaper, especially if you’re booking way in advance. I’ve just been through a big booking spree for my trip through South America and I was amazed - even non-chain boutique hotels are sometimes 30% under the price of the aggregators.
My usual process now is momondo -> google the hotel’s site.
If you’re traveling to/within Asia, Agoda is the best option.
hotels.com maybe, but I think they use similar techniques.
trivago seems ok?
They are the same company, just different domains: http://www.expediainc.com/expedia-brands/
Never knew that, very interesting.