Booking.com emphasizes its customer-orientation philosophy for West Bank lodgings

Booking.com was founded 26 years ago, and now, the website is available in 43 languages and promotes destinations in 228 countries.

 With its new safety warning for West Bank lodgings, Booking.com emphasizes its customer-orientation philosophy. (photo credit: DADO RUVIC/REUTERS)
With its new safety warning for West Bank lodgings, Booking.com emphasizes its customer-orientation philosophy.
(photo credit: DADO RUVIC/REUTERS)

Israel’s clash with the Dutch online travel agency Booking.com on adding a safety label to listings in the West Bank has reached a turning point.

The West Bank, under Israel’s rule since the Six Day War, is now among the territories with a safety advisory, in both Palestinian cities as well as settlements. “Please review any travel advisories provided by your government to make an informed decision about your stay in this area, which may be considered conflict-affected,” the warning reads, which is a softer advisory than those for Ukraine or Cyprus.

This warning now also appears for numerous other regions plagued by conflicts, including Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh, in the South Caucasus.

Disregarding the insignificant number of Israeli hotels in the West Bank and the sensitive political issue – at first, Israel considered the planned alert as being brought on by BDS activists, Palestinians and human rights groups –  it is important to understand the might and power of this online travel agency. 

Booking.com shapes the travel world fiercely. Its positive impact on millennials and Generation Z – who favor it dramatically – needs to be understood in the most serious manner, especially with its recent growth, which has captured an ever-increasing share of the overall profit margin with an impressive seemingly never-ending prosperity.

How did Booking.com become the largest digital travel agent, snatching up so much of the entire hotel industry’s value without owning any hotels?

Booking.com was founded 26 years ago, and now, the website is available in 43 languages and promotes destinations in 228 countries. Travelers under 40 have established the habit of conducting research before they order an accommodation. Websites that compare and rank a variety of products have spread widely. Today’s tourists devote noticeable efforts finding the best value for their money, and Booking.com understood this phenomenon before the rest. 

It started to provide detailed information on hotels and customer feedback and gave out scores. With a generation that appreciates crowdsourcing, they found the ultimate key. 

With a clear, simple and straightforward message in its brand – booking – the site also has a clear design and is easily read in a variety of languages, including Hebrew

This, however, also leads to a wrong perception that the website offers better deals than hotel websites. But with a simpler and quicker booking process, which results in a smaller amount of clicks required to guarantee accommodations, most hotels’ websites stayed behind.

However, millennials who grew up with digital technologies are the exact target customer group to benefit using Booking.com. This sociological change made this site even more powerful. 

With most of the hotel industry lacking the digital expertise, Booking.com took advantage of an additional factor. An accommodation reservation without any human interaction became more popular than talking to a human voice from a hotel reservation department. This phenomenal change made Booking.com a giant. 

Customer-orientation philosophy focusing on boosting customer satisfaction, supporting the user and defending their interests in any conflict with hotels is an additional factor that made Booking.com extremely popular. The site guarantees the best price to travelers, but it also offers to match its price to users if they find a cheaper one. Who can resist that advantage when planning a trip?

 IDF troops operate in the West Bank as part of Operation Break the Wave, September 25, 2022 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT) IDF troops operate in the West Bank as part of Operation Break the Wave, September 25, 2022 (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

Booking.com invests billions to be seen by travelers searching for any accommodation on the globe. It will be improbable for one to search for a hotel on the Internet without finding Booking.com’s offerings on the top of the list. Only colossal travel players can show such presence. 

With ongoing support for its clients, whatever the customer’s reason is, Booking.com creates loyalty, and millennials are potential customers for decades. With this travel-guide policy and information of interest to users, Booking.com is perceived even more now as a reliable source of information for young travelers. 

A limited number of hotels will advise on their website to check with regional health and government authorities about specific policies. Booking.com aims to put the customer first. Providing information that they need in one place – their site. 

And, as such, West Bank accommodations now have this new safety advisory.

For days, the Foreign and Tourism ministries conducted a dialogue with a giant, the most influential travel player of this decade. Israel expressed relief once Booking.com altered its original decision. 

But is it a major change? It’s in the eye of the beholder. Is the glass half empty or half full?

Whatever the answer is, the end result is still concerning.

The writer is the Travel Flash Tips publisher.