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Does booking.com allow renters to contact flat owners or hotels with questions prior to booking?

Hi,
I'm booking two weeks in Italy in June and am using Air BnB, VRBO and Booking.com as potential booking sites. I like all the filters on booking.com and have selected a few properties as possibilities. For the life of me I can not find a way to message the owner of the hotel/flat/house with questions regarding their property. This is clearly and easily done on both VRBO and Air BnB. Can some one tell me if this is able to be done and if so how to do it?

Thanks!

wvdthree

Posted by
2232 posts

I know that it is quick and easy to communicate with lodging, through Booking.com, once you have a reservation, I have never tried to do that before booking, and never noticed if you can. Apparently not easily, or you wouldn’t be asking. Sometimes if you google the name of the lodging, you might find a direct web site with contact information. More likely with hotels than apartments.

Posted by
11417 posts

I've used that site quite a bit but unless I've missed something, I believe you can only contact owners/management on Booking.com during the actual booking process or after you've booked. Copy/pasting from one of the apartment listings in Rome and a small hotel in the Cinque Terre:

"Please inform _____ of your expected arrival time in advance. You can use the Special Requests box when booking, or contact the property directly using the contact details in your confirmation."

But quite a number of accommodations also have their own websites these days so you could google them up and contact them directly, if very interested in a specific property. Apartments are often cross-posted on multiple sites, such as Airbnb, VRBO, booking.com, etc., so you could try to find it on a different booking site if answers to pre-booking queries are a deal-breaker for you.

Posted by
3769 posts

Have you checked to see if the properties are also listed on airbnb or VRBO? I just ask because as I was booking a place in Scotland, it was listed on booking.com and on Airbnb - and funny enough - it was about $30 less on airbnb!

Posted by
50 posts

Thanks for the replies. Many people have talked about trying to track down a lodging on their own site (no booking, vrbo or air) to get more info or questions answered. Honestly it seems completely absurd to have to do so. VRBO and Air both have easy means of contacting owners/mangers prior to booking. And yes, I am aware that many hosts cross list their rental on various platforms. The reason I am needing to ask questions before booking is because I have a question that is not addressed in the information listed or the reviews of the property. And in most cases not getting an answer to my question prior to booking would in fact be a deal breaker. Each of these platforms have their strengths and weaknesses and in this case this is in my opinion a big miss on the part of booking.com.

Posted by
210 posts

Choose a property, then scroll down to the bottom of the property description--just before the list of individual rooms/prices. On the far left side there is a button that says, "Ask a question". I looked at a couple of properties; some say that the property will reply within a few days, others give a shorter time frame. I'm using my laptop computer, so I don't know how it would look on a smart phone. Hopefully this will help you make your decision.

Posted by
16599 posts

Thanks, Den. I've made over 100 reservations on booking.com and never noticed that!

Posted by
50 posts

Thanks Den! I thought it quite odd they wouldn't have that feature.

Posted by
1255 posts

They don't have it because they frankly don't want to hear from you. I know you probably think your questions are important but there are tens of millions of people just like you who charitably have difficult to answer questions, or uncharitably either won't do the research, or won't read, or just simply have a lot of questions and who think it is OK to barrage a property with them, which costs a lot of time and money for properties. You can filter reviews by "tags" with booking.com ... for example if you are wondering how the wifi is or the parking then filter by one of those tags and probably someone says something about it.

I know that might sound harsh but that's the way it is. Unless you have some very specialized and niche need it is hard for me - someone who has spent thousands of nights abroad in hotels and never felt the need to ask a single question - to really understand what type of questions you would have that you could not find your answer by looking through the property's attributes and/or reviews and instead need to message multiple properties. You may want to find another platform to book on.

Posted by
2761 posts

They don't have it because they frankly don't want to hear from you.

I don't agree with that at all. Their business involves getting people to stay with them, and if that means occasionally answering a question, that's part of their business. By using a platform like booking.com or airbnb, they can put out a lot of info that will answer most questions. But if someone has a question that isn't answered there, they should be happy to answer it. If they didn't use a booking platform and instead relied on their web site, there would presumably be an email address or contact form, and if they simply ignored the questions, that wouldn't exactly help their business.

Posted by
3319 posts

I agree with Robert. I have asked several B&B’s I’ve reserved through Booking.com a question, and they always promptly reply. Usually it’s a variation of the same question: “I will be arriving by train at 11:30 and will walk to your B&B by 11:45. I understand that this is too early to check-in. May i leave off my suitcase?”

I won’t book a B&B with a non refundable reservation until I know that I don’t have to hold onto my suitcase after I arrive. And, all of them have always been very gracious to grant this request.

A funny note: I use Google translate to word this request in their language as a courtesy. One of my B&B hosts replied that not only was it possible, but my French was impeccable. What a disappointment my actual elementary French must have been when I arrived! ; )

Posted by
50 posts

OK, I wasn't going to respond but now @Robert and @Jean have given me an excuse to respond. I agree 100% with @Robert and @Jean and think that @Ufkak is entirely incorrect and a common troll. So unfortunate that a site that by and large is composed of folks who want to give and receive constructive comments about traveling has to be infected by this type of individual. The comment reeks of condescension, negativity and a know it all attitude. Please leave the forum to those who wish to use it constructively and effectively.

Posted by
1255 posts

I stand 100% by what I said. Their website makes it intentionally difficult to contact the owner before booking. Do you think with a website that costs tens of millions of dollars to create, and brings in $13B a year in revenue that that is a mistake or oversight? Or do you think Booking.com, just like a ton of other websites makes it very difficult to talk to a human and that is 100% because talking to a human costs money? And how is that trolling? If you don't like the fact that booking.com doesn't give you the human interaction and personal touch you feel you need, then you need to find a different platform to book on, that is just a fact.

Posted by
3214 posts

At first I was a little flummoxed by your question because I knew I'd asked questions on Booking.com before.

I took little look and the question asking options appear below the apartment details on my tablet.

Here's the first one: Questions you may have
Find quick answers or ask questions to the property.

When you click on this you'll see questions others have asked with the answers. And there's an option to ask a question yourself.

Below that is an option to do a live chat and ask questions, but I think that's with a Booking.com person.

Both these options in this location make sense to me because by that point you should have taken in the major information about the place.

Scroll farther down to see things like Apartment Policies and Important Information. These are the links to find out admin things and the fine print that can trip renters up if they don't read them.

There's also a 2nd chance to ask questions to the property there. This makes sense to me because it's close to that fine print, so you don't have to scroll back and forth much to formulate your question.

I have not messed around with this on my desktop computer. Things may be in different places on the screen there. I know this RS website sets itself up very differently on my PC than on my tablet. I did check my phone and it sets up the same as my tablet for both Booking.com and the RS website.

Posted by
1039 posts

We booked our Italy apartments through booking.com this past September, and were able to communicate with the hosts, but only after booking.
If you book with free cancellation, you can always cancel if you don't get the responses you want from the hosts.
That's how you do it.
Win-win.

Posted by
1499 posts

Since we travel with our dog in Europe, we always want to confirm property allows a dog, and cost. Many properties have a “message” button to ask a question before booking, but not all. If there is a refundable rate/room, I will sometimes book, and ask the question confirming dog policy. If the pet fee is too high, or they don’t allow, I can cancel. There was one property that sent an auto-reply after booking (I think this one may have had a portion non refundable) that there was no internet until November (10 months away); so sent message asking if this was true, didn’t receive response after two inquiries, so cancelled, no deposit was charged. The message feature of booking is valuable, as it documents all communication and questions. If there is not a way to communicate in Booking, I’ve found other methods- hotel website, Expedia. And if non refundable, no messaging, or other way to communicate, I don’t book.

By the way in the past 18 months we’ve had over 30 stays and another 25+ reserved, and maybe 12+ cancellations. Never had am issue,

We were to stay in a hotel in Milan on Sunday that we reserved through booking, and the cancellation window passed before the spike in virus cases over the weekend. We had tickets to the soccer game, but yesterday the club announced the match would be closed (no spectators). So I messaged the hotel, and they offered to apply the cancellation fee to another stay before June 25. Of course if rate is higher we’d have to pay difference.