As a budget traveler, I have used a few mobile apps for hotel bookings. There are times when booking via a mobile app is recommended compared to a hotel booking done on the web because of the discounts made only available on its mobile app version.
It is best to ascertain what kind of traveler you are and what do you want to get out of a hotel booking or accommodation and once you take note of this, you will be able to narrow down your choices.
I mostly use Booking.com and I prefer it over Agoda. Both mobile apps and web versions are awesome to use and some blocks of room in Agoda are facilitated by Booking.com. Here’s what I think about Booking.com and Agoda mobile apps:
1 – I like hotel stay prices to be displayed as the final amount I would be paying. In this regard, Booking.com would take the most points. With Agoda, I would only see the partial price and the breakdown of the price would be seen a few pages later.
2 – When it comes to newsletter subscription headings, I noticed I would tend to ignore and delete Booking.com e-mails on hotel deals because they don’t usually come off as a “call to action” kind of heading. They generally are about the hotel deals of a specific city you were last recorded browsing using your account. Agoda, on the other hand, has headings about a specific discount. I often find myself clicking through the Agoda e-mails because of the tempting deals. The headings draw me in to check out how I can get the 10% discount as promised within a limited time period.
3 – I recently booked via Agoda at one hotel three times within a week and two times out of those I had to do cancellations. Luckily it was the same room and it was still available for the same dates. When I click on Bookings, there isn’t really much you can change from there even though, for example, the special requests drop down menu and the submit button are still active. This seems to me as somewhat rigid. When I initially booked the room, I set it to pay later and had only 1 card saved. When I wanted to change the card under the saved payment method within the booking itself, the system won’t let me do it. Overall, there is not much change you can do within the booking itself. I had to e-mail customer support regarding the availability of changing the payment method once I’ve made my decision to pay for the booking. After almost two days, I got the reply that changing the payment method was not possible and that I had to re-book. How cumbersome. When I cancelled, I received an e-mail confirmation and it had an invitation to take a survey and leave a feedback regarding the said booking. I certainly hope they take my suggestion seriously to be flexible with making changes to a booking within the particular reservation itself.
4 – What really attracted me to Booking.com in the first place was the fact that they enable the “pay at the hotel” feature in most reservations. Although free cancellations can also be found in Agoda reservations, there’s a catch called prepayment. Because things sometimes get shitty between GCash (the main card I use) and PayPal instant withdrawal transfers, I cannot always guarantee I can do an automatic prepayment using my GCash MasterCard when PayPal and GCash delay my funds for all the sluggish reasons just because they can.
5 – Both Booking.com and Agoda mobile apps load pretty quickly.
6 – I use AirAsia and Scoot Tiger Air as alternatives to Cebu Pacific. AirAsia and Scoot sometimes have special hotel deals when you book with them and I have been able to apply these discounted rates because of their affiliated promos with Booking.com. Agoda offers Point Max where you can choose to earn miles for a particular booking. It’s not retroactive as you would have to determine your rewards program first. Only when you come to the select rooms section will you be able to view deals like how many miles you can earn with your already chosen rewards program if you book a particular room.
7 – I have compared rates between Booking.com and Agoda with the accommodations I frequent and Booking.com always has the higher discount rates. As someone who has a Frequent Traveller badge next to my avatar, I get awesome Genius secret deals. Below is a comparison of prices I get as a Booking.com Frequent Traveller and what I get on Agoda. Both screenshots are taken from their mobile apps.
I find that an advantage for Agoda is the Book Now option which charges your card upon booking completion. Few accommodation searches I did in the same area offer the Book Now option and with discounts as high as 65%. Those kinds of deals are what I couldn’t find in Booking.com. The only problem I have with those discounted accommodations are accessibility from the train station (I’m talking about a stone’s throw away), a 7-Eleven convenience store and the mall.
Because I am a budget traveler as I mentioned in the beginning of this article, I tend to book the similar hotel upon returning to a particular country, until of course I find a better alternative. Accessibility has always been first on my list and I usually get to narrow down my options from there.
There are rare occasions when I prefer to pay for a duration of a hotel booking immediately with a debit/credit card and Booking.com nor Agoda would not have this kind of option for the same hotel I liked. I would then resort to Hotels.com mobile app. They have discounted deals for mobile app hotel bookings only and their reward system involves an extra night free for collecting 10 nights even as a first-time user. The collected nights would be reflected 72 hours after checkout.
There is another neat option that I hope to explore someday and it’s called Trip.com as it involves train bookings as well. Perhaps when I get to travel in an ever bigger continent this might come in handy.