Online Booking Engines

These days, I have mostly moved onto booking directly with the hotels or the airlines. However, I often do a comparison check on popular booking engines as they sometimes offer a better deal or bundle offers. There are a couple of major online travel booking companies in the states, which includes Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and Hotwire.

Generally speaking, I have a favorable impression of Expedia as I never run into issues with any of my bookings with them. In one instance when I had to cancel portions of a trip due to some extenuating circumstances, Expedia’s customer service came through for me.

Change of plans

On my recent trip to Asia, however, I deviated from the tried and true. I needed a hotel near a specific location, and I found a hotel that seemed to fit the bill. The hotel does not have its own website for direct booking, but it’s bookable on some of the hotel booking engines. Unfortunately, the dates I want were “sold-out” on all major booking sites, save for one: Agoda.

I have heard of Agoda before, so it’s not a total unknown. I did my due diligence and researched on people’s experience. Reviews seemed to be a mixed bag, but at least I can ascertain that it’s a legitimate company. I decided to give it a shot and booked two rooms. In the back of my mind, I was wary how Agoda could still show room availability when other agencies showed a “sold out” status. I pushed that thought out of my head, once I see this message in an email confirmation:

oct2015

Security/Fraud Verification

If something is too good to be true, it probably is. About eight days before my trip departure, I received this email:

 

weekbefore

 

I was not pleased.  As part of the fraud security alert, they want me to send them a photocopy of my credit card and driver’s license. Otherwise, they will cancel my reservations. If I don’t respond before a specified date, they will automatically cancel my reservations. And oh, “Your booking request is subject to continued availability. No room is being held whilst we wait for your verification.”

Taking Actions

In an age where people worry about identity thefts, Agoda would be remiss if they think I will send them the requested documents. I never had to send any of the information for reservations on other booking engines. While it’s not a phishing email, who knows who will take possession of my personal info?

Peeved at Agoda for throwing a wrench right before my trip, I decided to take immediate actions. I went online and booked directly with another hotel. The hotel is bit further away, but at least I got the peace of mind I needed. I then promptly cancelled my existing reservations with Agoda.

If Agoda can’t guarantee my reservations (which is the most basic function of an online booking company), what good is a “confirmation”? If they can’t even get a simple reservation right, I don’t have a lot of faith that it will get anything else right either.

Maybe others have had a better experience with Agoda. As for me, I don’t expect that I will book with them again anytime soon.

Have you ever run into issues with agoda.com or other booking engines?