I made a video review of the popular accommodation reservation site Agoda.com.
In this review I cover price comparisons with other popular reservation sites for hotels and resorts in Thailand, as well as their unique Agoda Rewards program, in which you accrue points which you can redeem for discounts on future bookings. I also look at their customer service, including their cancellation policy and finally I take a look at an area where I think they could improve.
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Below the video you will find the transcript of the video, and at the very bottom of the post is the audio version, which you can listen to here on the site, or download and listen to at your leisure.
Transcript of Agoda Review video.
Hello, and welcome to my review of Agoda.com, which is a popular hotel reservation website. Agoda has a lot of hotels in Thailand, and throughout Asia, and in fact throughout the whole world. It’s a Thailand based company, so they have a lot of hotels in Thailand, but as you can see from the front page, there are many hotels throughout the world. You can see at the bottom here, it’s part of Priceline. Priceline purchased Agoda a year or two ago. That has given them a big advantage, because the large inventory of Priceline and buying power enables them to do great prices for hotels.
So, you can see here that the hotel site is available in many languages. You can choose from the drop‑down menu up here and you can visit the site in any language you like.
Now, when most people are looking for a hotel, the main concern for them is price. I thought that would be a good way to start off this review with comparing the prices that you can get at Agoda with other places.
So, when you want to book a hotel on the front page, you go to the top, the drop‑down menu, as you can see, there are many Asian countries and countries from all around the world. So, you choose here. I’ll stick with Bangkok. For this demonstration, I’ll put dates in the middle of December, because I didn’t want to do a review with off‑season prices and give unrealistic expectations for low prices, which is why I chose these dates here.
So, you can just choose a normal search without picking a hotel, and it will show you a list of all the available hotels for the city and the date that you chose. It comes up here. You can sort from most popular, which is the default, or you can choose to rank it from one to five stars, five to one stars, also you can sort them in alphabetical order.
Now, I’m going to sort them from five to one stars. I just want to show you something. If you were looking to do a five‑star holiday, but you were put off by the price, because five‑star hotels are very expensive, Bangkok is an excellent place to go. Look at this, you’ve got five‑star hotels in the middle of peak season, and look at these prices ‑‑ $82!?
What kind of place in the world can you get five‑star accommodation, at the peak time, in the middle of the city for such low prices? It’s an excellent choice if you’re looking for a five‑star holiday.
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If you’re looking for a specific hotel, you can go down here and you can choose from the drop‑down list that lists every hotel in the city that you’re looking for. We’re going to do the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort and Spa, which is a popular place on the river. I also did a Google search for the hotel name, Bangkok Marriott Resort and Spa, and we’re comparing the prices of the top five search results that come up for that hotel.
So, we’ll click it here and we’ll see what comes up. OK, so here is the page that comes up when you do a search. You can see we’re doing a deluxe room only, and it’s $138 per night. I’ve chosen four nights from December 14 to December 18. Now, let’s have a look at the other results from Google.
Booking.com has the same dates for $557. It’s four nights, and that comes to $189 per night, which is a little bit more expensive than Agoda. Let’s have a look here. Here we have Hotel Club, $225 a night. That is a lot more expensive than Agoda.
Now, we’re going to check out HotelTravel.com; they’re $189 per night. If you go to the Marriott website, they have a rate of 4130 Thai baht per night. Now, this works out to be USD132 per night, which is $6 less than Agoda. But, what you will find is the big hotel chains like Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt, and maybe Starwood, they have a best price on the web guarantee where they either match or they lower the prices.
But, what you will find, is the rates are quite restrictive for these deals. Have a look here. For the Marriott one, it says it’s an advance purchase rate, prepay in full, non‑refundable if canceled more than one day after the booking, and absolutely no changes.
So, while they may match or beat the price by a couple of dollars, if you make changes or if you want to make any changes after 24‑hours of making the booking, basically you’ve lost your money. So, you have to decide if that’s worth the price.
Another one that comes up often is Asia Web Direct. I did a search for them and they have basically no availability on these dates. Actually, this company, I’ve found, has that a lot. I was going to do another price comparison of another hotel, but I thought it would make this video too long.
So, if you’re interested, what I’ve done is I have made a grid showing the prices at a number of different hotels with a number of different booking engines. If you’re interested, you can pause and take a look, otherwise we’ll just keep going on with the review.
OK, now that we have taken a look at prices, I’d like to show you another feature of Agoda, and that is the Agoda Rewards system. So, basically when you book a hotel, they give you Agoda points, which is between the value of four and seven percent of your booking. You can use these to get discounts on future bookings. Sometimes hotels have double and triple point promotions, which you’ll see when you do a search.
So, you can see here, an example is if you book a hotel and it’s worth $625, you’ll receive 12,500 points. This is worth a $25 discount next time you make a reservation. So, say you have 12, 500 points, if you book $100 hotel, you can redeem your points and get a $25 discount.
I must point out that the minimum amount that you can redeem is 12,500 points, so you need to spend $625 on the hotels in order to get a discount. Also, these points expire at the end of the following year that you earn them, so any points that you earn in 2010 will expire December 31, 2011, so you need to watch that as well.
Also, what is cool is that they have self‑service, so you can log in here, and you go to self‑service. You can do a number of things. You can change your booking dates and you can make a special request. If you have lost your hotel voucher that they send to you in an email when you get the booking, you can have that re‑sent. Or you can cancel your booking or get a receipt, so, just clicking here.
Also, this is where you’ve got to check your points balance as well. So let’s have a look at my transactions and points. Here, you see. I have 20, 199 points. You can see I’ve earned them for staying at hotels. See, I stayed at Z Through by the Zign in Pattaya…was $149 and I received 2, 996 points. I stayed at the Four Seasons in Bangkok for $243 and I got 4,865 points, and there’s some other hotels I stayed at as well.
Rewards for hotel reviews
But look at this: 500 points for a review. And that’s one of the cool things also about this, is after you’ve stayed at the hotel, you get an email from Agoda asking you to write a review for the hotel. And if you do, you get 500 points. You get the 500 points if you write a good or a bad review; it doesn’t matter. So have a look here. This Four Seasons Hotel ‑ when you first arrive on the page it looks like this, then you can click on “See Reviews of this Hotel.”
And the good thing about this is, only people that have actually stayed at the hotel and have booked through Agoda are able to write reviews. How many times have you seen a really unpleasant hotel and it’s got 100 bad reviews but then two or three excellent reviews pop up which are obviously from the owner or the staff or the owner’s friends? So, on Agoda’s reviews, they’re all by people that have actually stayed there so they tend to be a bit more honest.
So if you write a review, you get 500 extra points, and which can be used towards your discount, which I think is another good thing.
Agoda customer support
OK, next I’d like to talk about the Agoda customer support. If you look on every page, they have 24‑hour, seven‑day‑a‑week support, which you can click on here. So here they have the Agoda self‑service menu, which is what we talked about before, where you can cancel your booking, change the dates, or get another copy of your hotel voucher and so on.
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Now speaking of cancellation policy, if you’re wondering where it is, here it is. You can cancel your room, paying the booking…there is a $15 U.S. dollar processing fee for each booking that is canceled. Now you can also change the period of your stay. If you shorten your stay while you’re there, there may or may not be a cancellation fee or a processing fee, which is by the hotel, not by Agoda.
Also, you can contact them by telephone 24 hours a day in English. Or if you want to contact them in a language other than English ‑ the languages that were up here in this drop‑down menu ‑ you can call them between nine am and 10 pm Monday to Friday, Bangkok time. Click here, on this link here, to see what time in your country is between nine am and 10 pm Bangkok time.
So you can also contact them through this link, where you can contact them by email or by telephone. Or click here for a chat window where you can speak to a lovely sales assistant, where you put in your name, your address, and the reason for contacting them. So once you’ve made a reservation and you need to make a change, Agoda makes it very easy for you to contact them to make changes, which I think is another good aspect of the Agoda system.
Star rating inconsistencies
OK, finally, if there was one thing that I had to say critical about the Agoda site, was that the star ratings of the hotels can be inconsistent sometimes. For example, I was looking at some Chiang Rai hotels the other day, and looking at some hotels. The Dusit Island hotel is listed here as a five‑star hotel.
Look at the pictures. I don’t know about you, but that to me does certainly not look like a five‑star hotel. At best, a four, but more like a high three to me. And when we scroll down here to the description, it says here, “The four‑star hotel is just a 10‑minute tuk‑tuk ride from Chiang Rai.” So what is it? Is it a four‑star or a five‑star?
Also, the Phu Chaisai Hotel in Chiang Rai, listed as a four‑star hotel. But look at the pictures…maybe a four‑star hotel, I don’t know. But down in the description, again, it says, “This is our leading five‑star hotel.” Which one is it? Five‑star or four‑star? And the Tacola Resort and Spa Khao Lak is mentioned as a four‑star hotel. Pictures? It may be a four…yeah, it’s probably a four‑star, I would say. But the description says it’s a three‑star.
I mean, they have a lot of hotels and they have a lot of descriptions to write, and sometimes hotels change, but this can be a little bit disconcerting sometimes when you have inconsistent star ratings. That would be one thing that I would say that they could probably improve in.
So that is my review of Agoda. I hope you liked it. I hope you found it informative. If you have any questions or any observations, or maybe even a correction, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will address it. Thank you very much.
Transcription by CastingWords
What booking sites do you use when you plan your vacation? Have you used Agoda in the past? If so, how was your experience? Would you use them again? Please leave a comment at the bottom of this post and share your experiences.