If you book directly with the hotel or accommodation itself, you can usually get a 10-30% discount. That’s the money that would otherwise go to Booking.com.
In some countries, Booking.com has an arrangement with accommodations saying they’re not allowed to give discounts [so-called rate parity*]. In that case, you can ask to have transport from or to the airport included in the same price, for example, or one or more meals if you’re staying at a hotel with a restaurant.
Before a few years ago, I always used Booking.com. Then, I wanted to change a reservation, because someone I knew had died. The hotel was fine with it, but those money-grabbers at Booking.com refused to change or cancel my reservation. I had to book again, and pay for a hotel stay that I never got to use.
The same year, I discovered that if you book on Booking.com using your credit card, they’ll just pass on that data verbatim to the hotel, where I saw my credit card information printed on an unprotected piece of paper. It begs the question: what does Booking.com even do, besides pocketing 20 to 30% of your reservation payment?
It’s such a waste. Booking.com once started out as a promising start-up. But it usually contributes no added value whatsoever compared to booking directly. And as we’ve seen, it’s often actually more expensive than if you’d ask the hotel for a discount yourself.
If Booking.com wants to remain a successful company in the future, they seriously need to work on its added value. They need better service, they need to cancel or change reservations at no charge [if the hotel is ok with that], and they need to be more secure with sensitive credit card information.