Booking.com vs. Airbnb.com platforms
Soca valley, a picturesque world of the Julian Alps, Triglav National Park and Soca river, is paradise for active outdoor adventures and a must see region while exploring Slovenia. Tourism is booming here and there are more and more visitors each year.
I have been working in the tourism sector for more than 10 years (last 6 years as self employed offering accommodation at Herbal Rooms Homestay and local guiding). I would say that tourism brings great money and you can really meet amazing people. On the other hand, your personal and family life is put on a side during the summer time (of course we find time for relaxing by Soca river between check outs and check ins). While working with international guests from all around the globe, I realized that there are huge differences considering their planning, travel desires and travel expectations. What is more, guests differ according to which accommodation platform are they using for making reservation.
Herbal Rooms Homestay became part of Booking.com website in 2018. Why so late? From other accommodation providers in Soca valley I got more negative than positive vibes on why they do not prefer hosting guests from Booking.com (but they still use it due to … continue reading). They said that guests through Booking.com are more likely to make last minute cancellations (I agree but you can state in the admin section that the reservation is non-refundable!), they do not read thoroughly terms and conditions on available accommodation (check in and check out time, curfew, shared bathroom with other guests, no breakfast provided, etc.) and they actually don’t know where they are actually going (so true!)), they are able to write a review on your accommodation but the host can not evaluate them as guests (it is partly true because as a host you can always answer reviews but of course you can not review the guest visibly) and if you are not fast enough to close booked dates, you may easily get duplicate reservations. These were the reasons why I waited for 4 years before Herbal Rooms Homestay started welcoming guests through Booking.com platform.
How Booking.com works?
Have a look on Booking.com website. What is your first impression? The website is very practical and clear but once you put the name of destination and the dates, the platform starts taking advantage of your fear. »Only 1 room left.«, »You missed it! Your dates are popular – we’ve run out of rooms at this property! Check out more below.”, “There is only 1 like it.”
You go further and click on preferred accommodation. And… bang! “One of our bestsellers in Plave!”, Last chance! Only 1 room left! Great value”, Excellent location”, “You missed it. Sold for 84 EUR.”, Limited supply in Plave for your dates.”
The more you scroll down, the more reasons to choose this specific accommodation you face (Prices you can’t beat!, The staff speak English, Great location and facilities for couples). Then you click on “I’ll reserve it!” and… bang!: “Jackpot! You got a great rate!”. It only takes 2 minutes. Confirmation is immediate. No booking or credit card fees!” You are so happy because you have just found available accommodation on the desired date so you forget to read terms and conditions. And because you are too slow, a pop-up window appears: “It’s almost yours! We just need a few more details. We can’t save your reservation if you leave the page off-line. Once it’s gone, it’s gone…”. And because you are afraid to lose a room, you book accommodation promptly.
After I get the reservation from a guest, I contact him/her and send him/her all appropriate information on check in time, how to reach Herbal Rooms Homestay by car or public transportation. I even send them GPS coordinates, attach a photo where to park the car and my personal number in case they arrive late in the evening. I specify once again that they are going to stay in a homestay and that they are going to share bathroom with other guests. But do you think they read all these information? No, they don’t.
So some of them are really surprised when they arrive at Herbal Rooms Homestay before 6pm and they find accommodation closed or they say: “Really? You do not serve breakfast?” or: ”Are we sharing the bathroom with other guests?” They really don’t read information.
How Booking.com guests can review your accommodation?
After Booking.com guests leave the accommodation, they can review 6 categories: cleanliness, location, staff, comfort, value for money and facilities. Based on 17 reviews, Herbal Rooms Homestay got 9.0 score out of 10 which is an amazing result. I am very disappointing when we get lower review on location. Sorry folks but I can not change the location of the house and it’s a pity you could not get accommodation in Kobarid or Bovec or Tolmin between 15th July and 20th August (next time book well in advance!) and I feel sorry for you driving from Bovec to our place. But at least you got a room in Soca valley, a comfy place to sleep in Herbal Rooms Homestay, very knowledgeable staff and a cup of herbal tea, right?
Besides location, facilities is lowering our score. Herbal Rooms Homestay is basic 1-star (1*) accommodation. Our aim is not to upgrade the stars but to upgrade experience. Before you enter Herbal Rooms Homestay in the right upper corner of the house there is a sign for 1 star (1*). 1 star is also visible on Booking.com. According to Slovenian categorization system facilities in 1-star accommodation are basic (a bed, mattress, hypoallergenic pillow, towels, linens, wardrobe, clothes rack, light, chair, desk, trash bin, toilet paper, slippers, windows with wooden shutters). We added books for holiday reading, free internet access, free herbal tea all day and assistance with organizing daily trips, guided walks and local experiences in Soca valley and its neighboring regions. We provide a homestay experience, lead you upstairs to your room and show you around the house and our flourishing herbal garden. You live homestay experience with a host family. If that does not suit you, then it is clear – Herbal Rooms Homestay is not appropriate you. Herbal Rooms Homestay is not a hotel. It is a homestay accommodation.
Since 2013 I am part of Airbnb.com platform. I use it also for my private travelings and I need to admit that the website is more personal, you get to know the host before head, it offers additional accommodations in the neighborhood and you can see it clearly where these accommodations are based. So as the price.
How Airbnb.com works?
Airbnb.com is very I-do-not-want-to-bomb-you (not yet!) user friendly website. Once you put the name of the destination, the dates and number of people, you can click on ‘Where to stay’ and search for available accommodation. There are 2 more options: ‘Stay with a Superhost’ or ‘Places to stay with a pool’. I am sure you can find accommodation it suits you most. Once you decide about accommodation, you can make reservation. The price is based on number of people (always specify exact number of people!) and the length of period of staying at the accommodation, cleaning fee in order to cover the cost of cleaning the space and service fee which helps Airbnb team to run their platform and offer 24/7 services support on your trip. After the reservation, the system summarizes your itinerary and point you to the things to keep in mind and house rules which you need to agree before you continue. At this point Airbnb.com encourages you: »This place is getting a lot of attention. It’s been viewed 21 times in the past week. This is a rare find. Vesna’s place is usually booked.” Then it gets a bit more personalized with: “Say hello to your host when you let your host to know a little about yourself and why you’re coming”. This is the last stage before you need to confirm and pay your stay.
How Airbnb.com guests can review your accommodation?
After Airbnb.com guests leave the accommodation, they can review 6 facts: location, accuracy, check-in, cleanliness, communication and value. Based on 20 reviews, Herbal Rooms Homestay got 4,7 score out of 5 which is an amazing result. Besides that, my guests love the extra care, quick responses, outstanding hospitality and local tips.
Besides location (the same as in the case of ‘booking.com’ guests), value for money is lowering our score. Did you know that Airbnb.com takes 13 % commission from the accommodation providers and 12 % from the guest, while Booking.com takes commission (15 %) only from accommodation providers and you need to cover the bank’s 1.2 % charge as well because it facilitates the payment process?
What is more, Slovenian government is adding 9,5 % VAT on rental of real estate for tourism purposes through both – Airbnb.com or Booking.com platforms. This is the reason majority of accommodation providers in Slovenia (and worldwide!) add these costs on top of the price which means that the final price is higher than making reservation directly through the website of accommodation provider (one tip: at Booking.com you can get telephone number of accommodation provider and you can call him/her immediately and ask for a lower price).
How to be a better Booking.com and Airbnb.com guests?
My dear guests, if you want to be better Airbnb.com or Booking.com platforms users, please read terms and conditions, facilities and services, room amenities of the accommodation you are going to stay at. Besides that, respect house rules, check in, check out and curfew time. Talk to the owners if there is something missing at the accommodation before you write bad review. This way I am sure your Herbal Rooms Homestay experience will exceed your expectations.
Pros and cons of Booking.com and Airbnb.com platforms
Pros (+) for Booking.com platform:
- Last minute reservations
- Full payment for cancellations
Cons (-) for Booking.com platform:
- High fees for a host
- Aggressive marketing
- Last minute cancellations
- Not reading terms and conditions and house rules
- 1,5-month payment delay
- No photo of a guest
- One-way review
Pros (+) for Airbnb.com platform:
- Reservations 1 year in advance
- Full payment for cancellations
- User friendly platform
- Getting payment the next day after arrival
- Photo of a guest
- Two-ways review
Cons (-) for Airbnb.com platform:
- High fees for a guest and a host
- Price is based on number of people (toddler pays the same price as the adult)
Last but not least, which platform do you usually use when you are searching for accommodation? Do you ever Google a name of accommodation provided at Booking.com or Airbnb.com platform in order to come in contact with accommodation provider immediately for a cheaper price?
Regardless which platform you use, keep in mind that once you are at the destination, a personal contact matters the most. Welcome anytime to experience Herbal Rooms Homestay in Soca valley.
______________ Thanks for reading! _____________
If you crave some more local experiences, join my local experiences! What is more, if you need help with your travel planning to Soca valley and/or Slovenia beyond the usual tourist menu , do not hesitate to contact me. Welcome/Dobrodošli!