Dear Experienced travelllers,
I need your help.
I would like to go for a trip avoiding accomodation booking by travel agents and thus saving my funds. However, the next reliable way of booking is booking on-line. The question is: which are the most reliable on-line booking machines in Europe and Asia? I mean: I give my credit details and then the room is really booked...
Thank you very much for your advice!
[ Edit: Fixed formatting :) ]
I would only use ones, which say, if there is a room, before they ask for credit card details. That is how it works, when I book hostel beds. They usually confirm that a bed is available, then ask if I want to book it. I then give my credit card details. I have never yet had a problem, with it.
After I book on-line, I always e-mail or call a few days later to make sure everything went through. Most places are pretty reliable. You can usually check availability on-line and then book and secure your place with a deposit. Booking through TP here is very secure, for example.
If in doubt, I usually go to Trip Advisor to see what people have to say about the place. A good reputation usually means the place is on the up-and-up.
I would generally trust sites more that look active and where you can see they are being used. That's just a personal way I have of assessing whether or not a site is legit and by no means a guarantee, but sites that have a larger user base can't afford to have problems in this area in my experience.
I do find myself often returning to a handful of sites for actual bookings. For accommodation I pretty much always use Travellerspoint if the stay is for a few days/weeks in a hotel/hostel, but of course I am biased here The partners we use were selected because they're reputable and secure, so I know that I'm going to get what I pay for and my credit card details are safe. For a longer stay (as in 3+ weeks) in an apartment, I prefer to wait till I arrive in the country and do the searching there since you have a bit more control on things which is nice if you're staying somewhere for a while. When I went to the Cook Islands last year I wanted a more vacation rental type place and searched the internet for quite a while for reviews and the likes before settling on a place. Faxed the credit card details directly to the owner of the property in that case to secure the booking, which I guess some people might be more hesitant about
Just a few weeks ago a travel agent asked me to email through my credit card details, which promptly resulted in my telling him he was an idiot for asking customers for those details on email. Now THAT is irresponsible and insecure!
I should point out that no matter how big and reputable an organization is, mistakes can happen where humans are involved (which is usually at the hotel side of things when they get the bookings in and enter them into their own system). A lot of the systems that give you a guaranteed booking are based on availability which has to be manually updated/checked by the management of properties and sometimes mistakes do happen where two bookings come in on two different booking systems, but only one room is left (for example). So it's always smart to double check with the property that all is cool before travelling, just in case