Is Venere.com a waste of webspace?
The travel website business is all over the place at the minute. What with booking.com and Expedia being investigated by the OFT for breaches of competition law by getting into bed (geddit) with Intercontinental Hotels, who could blame consumers for looking further afield for travel bookings. Even if they find a website that sounds like some kind of weird sexually transmitted disease.
Italian owned venere.com seems, on first glance to be another handy hotel booking site. You can browse properties in your desired area, find it on a map, and see customer ratings and book directly through venere. As a huge benefit, you don’t even have to pay upfront, but can settle up directly with the hotelier when you leave.
However, as most things that sound too good to be true actually prove to be too good to be true, we have discovered that venere.com isn’t actually a hotel booking site at all.
Avid bitterwallet reader John contacted us after he’d got into a spot of bother with his venere.com reservation. You see, John had booked a certain number of nights in his chosen hotel, and had received email confirmation of the booking from venere.com. That email confirmed the total price to pay on departure, and that the booking was non-refundable now made. The hotel, however, had vastly different booking details.
It being the summer season, the hotel were fully booked. John and his family looked like they would be turned away, but eventually the hotel were able to squash them into a smaller sized apartment for the missing nights. John was understandably unamused with this situation, but the hotel were adamant they had only received the shorter booking in John’s name.
On his return to the UK, John contacted venere.com to inform them of the mistake and to enquire how this had happened. After all, he had an unequivocal confirmation from venere.com of his proper booking. He received no response. After a number of further emails, John was eventually sent a cover-all email that had absolutely no reference to his personal situation.
What this email did say, however, was that “only the properties have access to the reservation requests they receive through Venere.com … The role of Venere.com is to create a direct contact between Venere customers and properties. (Bitterwallet’s emphasis)
So venere.com does not actually book rooms on your behalf, it merely requests the rooms from the hotelier. Sometimes incorrectly so. Presumably then, the confirmations issued by venere.com are a confirmation of request, rather than a confirmation of booking. Which is entirely not the same thing.
We investigated further and found that the room rates offered by venere.com are of limited supply, but that once those rates are ‘sold out’, you can still find them cheaper on competitors’ websites, or even directly with the hotel. Travel forum discussions we found on the web suggested that venere.com customers also emailed the hotel after receiving their venere.com ‘confirmation’ to ensure the booking had been made and that the details were correct.
So. If Venere.com do not guarantee your room booking, may not offer the best rate and you are advised to contact the hotel about your booking, why on Earth would you want to use them? We could not think of a suitable answer so we contacted venere.com to ask them.
We put it to venere.com that “there is no point booking through your website as you are merely an introduction service and customers would need to check the booking has been received by the hotel anyway, meaning they may as well book through the hotel” directly. They had nothing to say.