How to Book Quickly and Easily Hotel Online
The Booking.com Example
When planning a trip, one of the difficult parts is to find the best hotel online. There are so many options, websites, and types of accommodations that we often feel overwhelmed. My experience and knowing exactly what I want helps me book quickly and easily hotel rooms online. In today’s post, I share my tips how to do this using Boking.com.
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One reason why I am a good advisor on the subject is my International Hospitality Management degree from Cardiff Metropolitan University. This and my work experience make me a very difficult customer when coming to travel accommodations. I don’t easily make compromises although in the past I have stayed in pitiful hotels with horrible hygiene in rural Africa and I don’t mind to do it again if I need so. However, when you have a choice of millions of accommodations as it is in Europe, you should have a strategy and be able to find the place that matches best your desire.
Booking.com is one of the largest search engines for accommodation in the world. With more than one million properties listed, you will find the best for you, if you know how. The site is part of the Priceline Group together with other large reservation platforms like Agoda and Kayak (these two also offer some of the filters I speak about below, but in a lesser extent). In Booking you are given many options – you can set the currency and preferred language (at the top of the page), take the Quiz to find your dream destination (see the second menu at the top of the page) and many others.
I have experienced Booking.com as a traveler but also as a hotel owner. For almost two years I managed our family hotel before realizing that this job is not for me. It is lovely to welcome people from all over the world, to help them fall in love with the place, but it is too sedentary for me.
Booking is my favorite hotel reservation platform for several reasons – safe bookings and online payments; easy navigation and endless options to personalize your search; simple communication (with Booking staff and hotels as well).
Simple Rules When Booking Your Hotel Online
Know what you are looking for.
I have the feeling that many people, because of their limited budget, do not know or do not believe that they can have a hotel accommodation that will please them. That’s not true. You may be ready to sacrifice some facilities but to be pleased by others. The first thing to do before even starting the research is to decide what do you like. Are you a person whose priority is the cleanliness of the room or the location is more important for you? We all like or are ready to accept different things, so think what are your likes and dislikes.
Know your budget.
I probably do not need to go into details about the budget part. Everyone has his philosophy about this. My personal thoughts are that it is useless to do a compromise with the location in order to find a cheaper accommodation. Why useless? Because you will pay the difference in transport costs. It is better to stay at a central location, even if it seems a bit costly, and to discover the place by walking every day. It is more enjoyable too.
“Be focused” applies to the part when you will be given a heap of options and will start to read each one of them. Don’t! Do not waste your time in an attempt of trying not to miss a good offer. There is no ‘good offer’. Everything comes at a cost. Sometimes the cost is breakfast excluded, but other times can be more serious – bad location and dangerous neighborhood. That’s why follow the step-by-step guide included below and find the best you can afford.
Step-by-Step Guide to Book Your Hotel Online
1 – Create an account
Register at Booking.com to have access to exclusive deals. Having an account means you will have access to deals but also will make your bookings faster because your basic data will be auto-filled.
Also, and this is one of my favorite features, you can save hotels and other accommodation places in your “My lists” section. For the moment it allows you to use two lists – ‘Incredible Places’ and ‘My next trip’.
In “My bookings” section you will find the details about all your bookings. This is especially useful.
2- Set destination and dates
This is easy. For better prices, be flexible with the dates. If you are not decided yet where to go, scroll to the bottom front page and Booking will show best places to visit in “Destinations we love” and “Discover” sections.
3 – Use filters
You will find the filter options in the left sidebar. The first one, and probably the most important one, is the Budget filter. Set your budget per night and continue by choosing the hotel category (keep in mind your budget), deals, 24-hours reception and so on.
If you are registered member, you have access to several types of deals. In my case, as I’m Genius member, I can choose from good-value offers, secret offers, Genius discount and luxury proposal.
If you don’t see these filters, make sure that you click on the arrows in the left sidebar menu.
Then, you can precise your choice by selecting the meals options (breakfast included, half board or self-catering). The most important filters for me are the accommodation type and review score. By using them you limit the search only to what you need. For example, when I travel alone, I stay in hotels so I exclude apartments in the search. When I am with a family member or a friend I may stay in an apartment. Booking offers a large choice of accommodation types – vacation homes, cottages, hostels and even a boat-house.
The review score filter is your best friend when booking your hotel online. My suggestion is that you set your search to ONLY Excellent and Very Good. Thus, you will focus on good quality properties, places that have been proven as professional, clean and travelers-friendly. When we speak about hotel ratings, I want to make one clarification. I never ever have been misled by the ratings given in Booking.com unlike what I read about TripAdvisor. I don’t use TripAdvisor to check ratings of hotels and that’s why I can’t comment on that but in Booking ratings are well-founded and reliable.
After setting the previous filters, continue in choosing facilities. For me (as a blogger), the most important one is the free Wi-Fi. But when I travel by car available parking is mandatory, and an airport shuttle can be a good option at some destinations. You can also select room facilities if you wish to.
Booking is going even further to help you find the best place for you among the millions of options they offer. The District filter is important when visiting megalopolises like London. You don’t want to spend your precious time commuting from one side of the city to the other. It is better to stay in a more centrally located hotel and use the time for city exploration. These filters will help you find quickly and easily a better place within your budget because London (Paris, etc) is not a cheap destination.
At the bottom of the Filters menu, you will find Hotel Chains filter. Use this filter if you have particular preferences or are members of a hotel membership program.
4 – Make the Booking
Read the lines under the room type and conditions. Also, see what the popular facilities of the hotel are. Don’t get caught by surprise (like me) when you book a hotel with ‘parking available’ assuming that this parking is free of charge. Instead, pay attention to the details.
At the very bottom of the page, you will see field “The Fine Print”. Read it before making your reservation.
Enter your details and book your hotel online. During your reservation, check the boxes for Breakfast, “I want a travel guide to (your destination)’, ‘Make changes to your booking online’ and all other options that are given to be sure that you take advantage of all helpful tools that Booking offers.
Set your estimated time of arrival, if you know it and add special requests if you have any.
5- Check for confirmation letter
Sometimes takes a time to receive the confirmation letter but most of the time is not. Be sure that the e-mail does not go to your Spam folder because it includes all the important information that you will need.
6- Download the Booking.com app
I used Booking.com app for a first time during my solo trip to Norway. And it is very handy! I not only had all my reservations information at one place but also I could access it offline. In case you change your itinerary or don’t have a hotel booked in advance, you can easily search for the best deals nearby. You can also write a review and access Your Travel Guides on the go. I just love it!
7- Read the destination guides
Read the destinations insights in the Booking app (or sent to you by e-mail) before the trip to have ideas of what you can do or see. They are shared by locals and some interesting spots, usually not included in the official travel guides, are listed. It happened once that thanks to these tips I knew about some unusual places more than a friend who was a local.
8- Rate the place after the trip
After your stay, Booking will ask you to rate the place. Do it. It will help many others to make the right choice. In the end, you also rely on review scores when making your decision. Be honest. Don’t worry about your privacy, you can hide your name and it will not be shown on the site.
9- Book more and become a Genius member too
What to do next? Decide where your next trip will be and make your next reservation. And somewhere along the way you will become a Genius (member) and will unlock privileges and discount prices reserved only for members of Genius Loyalty Programme.
You see, it is not so difficult to declutter the information flow when searching for a hotel online. Even if, for any reason, you do not use Booking, you can apply these principles and steps in other accommodation sites because many of them offer some level of personalization. Most important – know what you are looking for and do not compromise, find the best hotel online for your budget!
This post was NOT sponsored by Booking.com but contains an affiliate link. If you book accommodation by clicking the link in this post, I will receive a small commission that will help me continue the work on this site.
However, every opinion and tips shared here are my own. I share them for the sole purpose of being helpful to other women to travel safe and make their trip planning process painless.