So you’re going on a holiday this summer and want to book a hotel or an apartment? Do yourself a favour: don’t use a site like Booking.com. If you book directly with the hotel or apartment itself, you can usually get a 10-30% discount. That’s the money that would otherwise go to Booking.com.

In some countries, Booking.com has an arrangement with the hotels and apartments saying they’re not allowed to give discounts. In that case you can ask to have transport from or to the airport included in the same price, for example, or one or more meals if you’re staying at a hotel with a restaurant.

Before a few years ago, I always used Booking.com. Then, I wanted to change a reservation, because someone I knew had died. The hotel was fine with it, but those money-grabbers at Booking.com refused to change or cancel my reservation. I had to book again, and pay for a hotel stay that I never got to use.

The same year, I discovered that if you book on Booking.com using your credit card, they’ll just pass on that data verbatim to the hotel, where I saw my credit card information printed on an unprotected piece of paper. It begs the question: what does Booking.com even do, besides pocketing 20 to 30% of your reservation payment?

It’s such a waste. Booking.com once started out as a promising start-up. But it usually contributes no added value whatsoever compared to booking directly. And as we’ve seen, it’s often actually more expensive than if you’d ask the hotel for a discount yourself.

If Booking.com wants to remain a successful company in the future, they seriously need to work on their added value. They need better service, they need to cancel or change reservations with no charge, and they need to be more secure with sensitive credit card information.