Travel website Booking.com has left many hotel operators and other partners across the globe thousands of dollars out of pocket for months on end, blaming the lack of payment on a “technical issue”.
The issue is widespread in Thailand, Indonesia and Europe among hoteliers who are venting their frustrations in Facebook groups as rumours swirl about the cause of the failure to pay.
Usually, if a customer makes a booking for a hotel through the website Booking.com and elects to pay upfront, the site takes the payment and passes it on to the hotel operator, minus a commission.
Booking.com’s partners have reported issues receiving payments since July, and in some cases months earlier. While Booking.com has continued taking payments from customers, the company has not always passed on the amount owed to hotel operators and others whom the Guardian has spoken to.
In August, the Booking Group reported total revenues of $5.5bn and a profit of $1.3bn for the second quarter of 2023 – up 27% and 51% on the previous year respectively.
struggle to get in contact with anyone at Booking.com about the issue.
“There is no way to contact them. Online it says you must talk to finance or credit control, neither of whom have a phone number or email address.”
He said you can call a contact centre, which then lodges a ticket for those teams. But the ticket expires every four days, requiring another phone call to lodge a new ticket. The Guardian has been told by multiple hotel operators that this is the practice.
It has led many to attempt other ways to reach the company, including LinkedIn messaging, directs emails to the Booking group CEO and looking up individual financial officers online.
Others affected include travel bloggers and websites that are paid affiliate payments when customers click through a link on their site.
Some operators who spoke to news outlets in recent months reported being paid once their story became public. The Hungarian consumer watchdog last month launched a probe into the company’s failure to pay hotel operators in the country and raided Booking.com’s local office, after local reporting on the issue.
Infeld said merely paying back what is owed by the company is not sufficient. He wants every hotel that hasn’t been paid to be paid along with market interest and all of Booking.com commissions waived.
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