Travelling has been my favorite so long. Actually, the interest started from my childhood itself. In those days, the planning part was a bit difficult without internet. We used to call our relatives or friends living in that area, enquire about the weather, tourist places, transportation, and then, book accommodation. Getting train tickets was a bigger task if more people were involved and if that was a busy season.
But, things are changed for better now. We plan everything online - be it booking a resort in Goa, Mahabaleshwar or a hotel on business trips to Mumbai, Delhi, Pune, Bangalore, tickets or reserving a tourist package. We just browse great deals, read reviews, compare the price in multiple sites, view pictures of the hotel and book.
Things look pretty simple. right?
But, wait. There are also some problems doing everything online. They might become your worst nightmare and spoil the great time you have planned with your loved ones.
Here are my top 5 reasons why online hotel booking sucks..
· Fake/Misleading Photos – Many times, I personally saw the difference between the amazing pictures they put on the sites taken by a great photographer and the reality with average cleanliness and interiors of the hotels. Yes, there are many things on websites which are misleading and they hide some important information.
· Fake ratings and review – Can you trust the ratings and reviews? Who knows? The good ratings might be from the staff of the hotel. Some hotels may even ask their guests to write a 5 star review for some freebies. I have seen pictures of guests which appear so professional.
· Hidden Charges – How do we know the hidden charges behind the discounts mentioned on the site? Sometimes, a hotel stay cost seems very less than other sites, but we realize at the time of payment that the total amount including taxes is equal to the cost cited by other sites. Many times, the rates they show on comparison sites and the ones before final booking have a huge difference.
· Complex sites and security – The navigation of the site and the data security are also important. A website with more access time and difficult to understand features is a big put off. A secured data connection while paying for a hotel is very important too. We cannot provide our credit card details to any website that we don't trust.
· Incomplete information – Some websites don't show different options available like a pool in the hotel or laundry facilities or extra bedding for guests or hot water facility. These are just a few of many options that impact the value for our money.
So where does it leave us all?We cannot completely rely on the information and we cannot stop using the convenient online services either.
Wish there was a site which provided us all the information we need with complete transparency. Is it so difficult? A good website that we can trust is the first step. Until someone solves this problem, we all will have to live with this surprise element that we experience when we actually land at the hotel. Wish and hope that those surprises are not unpleasant ones.
Many start-ups out there started with solving some problem or the other but over a period of time ended up as just another hotel booking site. They all think that by providing great discounts they will be able to make a customer happy.
We can learn about good sites through friends/ relatives recommendations who had experience of using the service earlier. Also, many travel blogs write information about the good travel and accommodation sites. I am yet to come across one which can truly claim to be 100% transparent. Have you faced one or more of these issues in during your travel? Let me know in comments….
Until next time,
Image courtesy: All images taken from Google images marked 'Labeled for non-commercial reuse'.