A while ago we signed up with booking.com as a way of getting extra bookings in the low season. It is apparently the biggest booking website in Europe. I had my apprehensions at first because of the way certain aspects of it work, but I figured it couldn't hurt. Well it has generated some extra business but not without a lot of headaches!!
Here are the problems I've found:
1.) The biggest issue is the customer base. Booking.com is not a hostel exclusive booking engine and so the hostels are mixed in with hotels and guesthouses and such. I've noticed that the guests I get from booking.com are almost always older people, sometimes coming for business purposes, and don't fit the general hostel culture. Some of them have never stayed in a hostel before. They also have unrealistic expectations and expect a hotel experience, ie: TVs and phones in the rooms, free parking, ensuite washroom, etc. Even though if they paid attention when booking they could have read our description and realized they would not get this.
2.) As opposed to Hostelworld and Hostelbookers which take their commission straight off the customer, booking.com takes no deposit from the customer, and instead sends an invoice at the end of the month to be paid by the hostel for the commission. Needless to say, this is unnecessarily complicated for us as we have to pay another bill every month rather than having it done automatically on the customer's end.
3.) The lack of deposit also leads to many guests cancelling their booking. They don't stand to lose any money like they do with Hostelworld (unless they paid for cancellation insurance) and so they cancel left, right and center. I would honestly say that somewhere between 30 and 50% of the bookings I get through booking.com end up being canceled, which just wastes our time inputting them into our system and then having to remove them. Not only that, but I get far more NO SHOWS with booking.com than any other reservation method. Although we can charge their credit card for a no show, they may not know this, and so don't bother showing up.
4.) I've had no end of trouble trying to avoid commission fees for guests that either didn't arrive or otherwise didn't pay. For example, I had one guy arrive and then immediately leave because he had a family emergency and had to go home. I refunded his money as we weren't busy and it was an emergency, and then I reported him as a no show so we wouldn't pay commission on that rate. Well, they contacted me later saying they got in touch with him and he contended that he stayed there, paid, and that all was fine. I have no idea why he lied or maybe they lied but it was a massive headache before I finally got them to rescind the charge. It was only about 16 bucks, but it was the principle of the matter.
5.) They don't allow you any control of your property listing content. If you want to change anything about your description, facilities etc. you have to email them and ask them to do for it you. Completely ridiculous, and no reason for that.
Anyways, that's my long rant. I find them quite frustrating. Has anyone else had similar or different problems? What's the general consensus?