We are doing the RS Best of Turkey in April 2023 and have been in email communications with the Galatas Hotel, which is our starting tour hotel. They replied that they have a room for us the night before our tour starts and the rate they quoted is fine. We tried calling to provide our credit card information, but they replied that they only use email for that. They are asking us to email a copy of our credit card plus an ID (Drivers License we presume), in addition to a Hotel Mail Order Form that includes the credit card information. We are reluctant to send all of that via email. Is this a normal process for booking a hotel in Turkey or Istanbul?
I would book using an online form either on the hotel's own website (I assume they have a secure website with reservations capabilities) or on Booking.com. Don't send out sensitive stuff like credit card info piecemeal over unsecure email. No one uses state-issued drivers licenses as IDs overseas, they use your Passport and typically take a photo of it when you check in.
I've heard of it happening in Asia, but the hotel should have an online reservation portal.
When I tried to book directly with this hotel, it showed FULL. So I kept checking Booking.com and made a reservation through that platform. A credit card is needed but you provide that at the time of making the reservation.
The hotel website did not show any rooms available which is why we had communicated with the hotel via email. We ended up using Booking.com and booked a room, although the cost was quite a bit higher. The hotel confirmed that reservation, so we are all set. We also sent an email to the hotel letting them know that we booked through Booking.com. No photo ID needed and no emailing credit card info. Phew!
I have asked about this of hotel desk staff on each of our four RS tours. Starting hotels that are used by RS tours typically will set aside a block of rooms for early arrivers, because they know from experience that RS tours will have such people. These rooms will typically be "unavailable" via their standard and third-party booking sites. So they need that direct communication to know you're with the tour group, and they will typically try to give you the same room you would have for the tour and at the tour daily rate. One hotel mentioned to me that they have a RS tour arriving every three days in the summer, so they are pretty accommodating.
I have had a few hotels that want credit card via email. If I can, I try to do it by phone. If they don't accept that I send my number through 2 different emails and the expiration date in a third. I don't know if it is safer, but it turned out just fine.
We had to send credit card info via multiple emails to book our pre-tour hotel in Greece, which we are doing back-to-back with our Turkey tour.
The Turkey hotel confirmed that they received the Booking.com reservation, so we are all set. Thanks everyone!