Agoda or Booking: Making the Right Choice in 2023
Choosing one platform may be challenging in a travel market flooded with numerous hotel booking options like Agoda and Booking, all offering similar services, locations, and policies. If you find yourself grappling with this decision, fret not! Today let's compare Agoda and Booking, helping you decide which platform best aligns with your needs.
Agoda, established in 2005 and based in Singapore, and Booking.com, founded in 1996 with its headquarters in Amsterdam, are two prominent players in the online travel industry. To some of you, it may be surprising that both companies operate under the ownership of the same enterprise, Booking Holdings, a publicly-traded company listed on the Nasdaq. The Booking Holdings portfolio encompasses other renowned travel brands such as Priceline, Kayak, Momondo, Mundi, HotelsCombined, and many more.
When it comes to booking travel accommodations, Booking.com usually stands out with a broader selection of distinctive and budget-friendly options. At least, that’s what people think about it. However, when my travel plans are focused on Asia or Mexico, Agoda takes the lead as my preferred choice, offering better deals and greater savings in the region. It’s the main reason why I decided to write about it.
DIFFERENT BUSINESS MODELS
Booking.com operates on the Agency Model, which means they act as an intermediary, directing customers to partner hotels, and payment is made directly to the hotel during check-out. Of course, hotels must pay for such service. By booking through Booking.com, the site reserves the room on your behalf, eliminating the need for a credit card at the time of booking, a convenience appreciated by many travelers.
Meanwhile Agoda employs a blend of both the Agency and Merchant Model. While certain options allow you to pay the hotel directly, Agoda's Merchant Model involves purchasing room inventory from partner hotels at a discounted rate and then selling them to customers at a higher price. Thanks to pre-established deals and negotiations with partner hotels, Agoda can still offer customers attractive discounts on rooms and packages.
SELECTION OF LISTINGS
A significant contrast between Agoda and Booking.com lies in the size of their listings. As an older company, Booking.com boasts a much larger selection, featuring over 20 million registered accommodation listings, while Agoda offers around 2.5 million.
Another notable distinction is the types of accommodations each platform specializes in. Agoda primarily focuses on hotels and resorts, but users can also filter out entire apartments, serviced apartments, and guesthouses/ B&B. In contrast, Booking.com provides a more diverse range, including apartments, hostels, guesthouses, and unique lodging options. So yes, for those seeking a distinctive or budget-friendly option, Booking.com may be preferable due to its extensive selection. Consequently, you may find properties listed on Airbnb also available on Booking.com but not on Agoda. Just one drawback is that finding an exact rental may be difficult unless you use RatePunk. This browser extension compares hotel prices on different OTAs and Airbnb, and if there is an exact match, it will show its price and suggest similar properties.
On a positive note, one aspect I appreciate more about Agoda than Booking.com is its superior inventory and pricing for listings in Asia. This advantage might be attributed to Agoda's headquarters being located in Asia, fostering closer partnerships with regional properties and enabling them to offer better deals. Also, I can stop boasting about resort prices in Mexico because only Agoda has suggested the best holiday deals with huge savings.
Both Agoda and Booking.com offer loyalty programs, namely Agoda VIP and Booking.com Genius, aimed at rewarding frequent guests with exclusive perks and benefits.
For Booking.com, achieving Genius Level 2 requires completing 5 stays within 2 years. This grants guests privileges such as 10 to 15% discounts on hotel rates, complimentary breakfasts on select stays, and free room upgrades for specific bookings. Progressing to Genius Level 3 offers even more advantages, including a 20% discount on hotel rates, free breakfast on all stays, free room upgrades for all bookings, and priority support on every reservation. However, I am a bit skeptical about loyalty programs and their shady tactics.
Upon creating an account with Agoda, users automatically become members, granting access to benefits like AgodaCash and Promo Codes. However, they won't be eligible for VIP discounts initially. To qualify for Agoda VIP discounts, users must complete a certain number of bookings within a specific timeframe.
For instance, achieving VIP Silver status requires 2 bookings within 24 months and maintaining a low cancellation rate, providing access to VIP listings at a discounted rate of up to 12%. Progressing to VIP Gold entails completing 5 bookings within 24 months, offering VIP listings at a discounted rate of up to 18%. Finally, reaching the highest level, VIP Platinum, enables booking VIP listings at a discounted rate of up to 25%.
It's essential to note that eligibility criteria and discounts may be subject to change, so it's advisable to review the latest terms and conditions of the VIP program before making bookings. As illustrated, after booking 5 stays within 24 months on either platform, guests can attain either Genius Level 2 or Agoda VIP Gold status.
When comparing prices, Agoda and Booking.com share a striking similarity. Both platforms provide a wide range of discounts and promotions, including early bird offers, last-minute deals, and special promotions.
In general, the prices for the same properties are mostly identical, unless you hold VIP status as a loyal member. Based on my personal experience, Agoda's VIP Gold status tends to offer more favorable discounts compared to Booking.com's Genius Level 2, which is why I often prefer Agoda for my bookings. Moreover, as mentioned earlier, Agoda consistently presents more attractive deals in the Asian region compared to what is available on Booking.com!
CUSTOMER SUPPORT EXPERIENCE
When considering user experience, both Agoda and Booking.com have their own strengths and weaknesses. Each platform boasts a modern and responsive design, featuring clear and user-friendly menus and filters. Additionally, both offer the convenience of a mobile app.
For customer support, both websites excel by providing assistance in multiple languages through various communication channels, including phone, email, and chat. Both platforms maintain dedicated teams of customer service representatives who are well-trained in addressing guests' inquiries, requests, and complaints.
Based on reviews and Tripadvisor past Agoda's customer support tends to have a faster response time compared to Booking.com, making it a preferred choice in terms of resolving issues promptly. Nevertheless, the final decision is fully on you.
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