I am sharing my personal experience as a seasoned traveller in Thailand and Southeast Asia. For close to 10 years now I have traveled in Thailand and Southeast Asia. For many years I used Latestays (AsiaWebDirect) for booking hotels. In 2010 I first used www.agoda.com and have not looked back. Here is my Agoda Rewards Review.
Many Agoda rooms come with free cancellation (depending on the hotel). I have only the one experience with this. In Sri Lanka I was forced to abandon the hotel during a tsunami evacuation (April 2012). The hotel first refused to refund. After a bit of back and forth through email the hotel agree to the refund. They clear the refund with Agoda and Agoda refund the payment to my account (as below). Agoda work as the middleman.
In Bangkok alone Agoda offer bookings for over 1,000 hotels. This is a lot. For those new to the city it is guaranteed to be overwhelming. For this reason I consider Agoda more as a bed bank for affiliates. As an affiliate partner I whittled down 1000 to a niche 30. My website Boutique Bangkok shows the Top ten budget, Top ten mid-priced and Top ten luxury hotels. My list focuses on boutique and design hotels in central locations with best value for money. Agoda bookings directed from my website gets me a percentage of Agoda’s booking fee. Agoda continue to grow and dominate in Thailand. They recently agreed terms with Starwood Hotels and the list keeps growing. I recently tried booking PP Insula Hotel (Koh Phi-Phi) by phone and was told to book online through Agoda.
Agoda are normally cheaper than competitors (although I have stopped comparing). When not there is a tiny difference in price. Below is an example of a Bangkok hotel booking. I chose the S31 Hotel Bangkok for the date one week from today (Sunday 21st October 2012). The four chosen booking websites are Agoda.com, Small and Luxury Hotels (my niche), Asia Web Direct (Asian Competitors) and Booking.com (world’s leading online hotel reservations agency). They all offer “Best Price Guaranteed”. Agoda (2,522 + 446) = THB 2,968 Small and Luxury Hotels = THB 3,440 Asia Web Direct = THB 3,390 Booking.com = THB 2,968 In this example the two cheapest booking websites are Agoda.com and Booking.com. With Agoda you benefit from the Agoda Rewards scheme. Agoda wins.
Walk-In vs. Internet Rates
I often test walk-in rates in Bangkok and Thailand. Internet rates are always cheaper. On occasions I have booked online while in the hotel. It makes sense that internet is cheaper than walk-in. Do you prefer trekking between hotels with luggage or clicking between 1000+ hotels online? Online is a lot more competitive. Example: Checking walk-in rates at S31 Hotel I booked the room an hour later on Agoda.com for $15 cheaper. On check-in I was upgraded to the Junior Suite with Panoramic Views.