Travel is a source of mixed emotions. Your time away traveling will rejuvenate the soul, but the planning and preparation can be a thorn in the side. In comparing Booking vs. Kayak, you will find potential solutions to make your planning much easier. Still, Booking.com and Kayak.com are much different than you might initially imagine.
We compare the two platforms to highlight the pros and cons and to help you decide which travel booking site is best for you.
Which is Better? Booking vs. Kayak
You can book all of your travel through the Booking.com platform and receive bundle savings in the process. On the other hand, Booking doesn’t give you much insight regarding when and where you should travel. Kayak is a research engine. Kayak.com will refer you to partner sites to book travel there. In doing so, Kayak provides helpful feedback, such as the best days to travel.
Understanding this distinction between the two sites will help you decide whether Booking or Kayak is right for you. You may find that Kayak.com is better for research and trip planning, but Booking.com is better for actually finalizing, paying for, and monitoring your travel arrangements.
Analyzing Price and Value: Does Booking or Kayak Win?
Most online travel booking sites offer similar pricing, but there are a few things you should consider before comparing Booking vs. Kayak. For instance, Booking.com offers bundle pricing, while Kayak.com refers visitors to partner websites. On the other hand, Kayak.com provides information about the cheapest days to travel and other insights that might help you save.
For the absolute best pricing, it might make sense to research with Kayak.com before finalizing your travel through a platform like Booking or Expedia. The same type of comparison will hold true when comparing Kayak to most other platforms, such as comparing Expedia vs. Kayak.
Booking.com Price and Value
While the reality is that most online travel agencies offer very similar pricing, that’s not always the case. In my experience, there are times when Booking.com offers a noticeable discount compared to the other major OTAs, even if it’s not much.
Plus, joining Booking’s loyalty rewards program will provide you with access to even more discounts. If you do much traveling, I recommend you consider signing up. On day 1, you will access 10% discounts at more than 350,000 participating properties, and the benefits get better from there. Just sign up and look for the blue Genius logo.
After several qualifying stays, you will gain access to Genius Level 2, which offers 15% discounts. You will also access complimentary breakfast and free upgrades as part of the Level 2 rewards program. For those that travel enough to reach Genius Level 3, you will eventually unlock 20% discounts and priority support!
Some rewards programs exist to collect your personal information, but Booking.com’s loyalty program provides real, tangible benefits to its members.
Beyond the rewards program, the biggest value and price advantages occur when you utilize Booking.com to bundle your travel.
Kayak Price and Value
Kayak.com is designed to help you see the world while saving money. You don’t need to overpay to explore. Instead, Kayak offers tools to help you find the best dates to travel, the best prices online, and free cancellations.
Kayak.com is part of the Booking family, which also includes Priceline.com. As such, Kayak can access the same extensive network, which means it offers millions of options and price points.
In the end, Kayak’s pricing aligns with most other online booking sites, but there is one very notable difference. Kayak’s user interface highlights the best dates to travel and other ways to design the trip of your dreams in the most cost-efficient way.
The end result is that users often save significant money, and this is especially true for users that have some flexibility in their preferred travel schedule. We will cover this more extensively in the ‘Services and Features’ section below.
For now, know that Kayak.com is uniquely designed to save you money.
Comparing Services and Features
When you compare Booking vs. Kayak, many of the differences in services and features relate to the differences in how the two sites operate. Naturally, since you can book your travel through Booking.com, their services, and features lean more into bundling and rewards programs. Since Kayak.com is a research tool, its services and features optimize your search experience.
Booking.com Services and Features
One thing that I love about Booking.com is that they offer options well beyond the traditional hotel. This really helps them stand apart. You can find hotels, yes, but you can also find rentals, including big city apartments, beachside villas, condo hotels, cottages, vacation homes, and more.
There are very few sites that offer a similar breadth of options.
And we also love the different ways you can search for potential destinations. Booking.com serves as a booking service, but they are much more. If you are looking for inspiration, they will help you find that, too.
For instance, they have ‘unique places to stay’ grouped into fun categories, including glamping sites, tiny houses, romantic hotels, ski resorts, and more.
You’ll find local attractions, too, which you can book as part of your overall bundle.
Booking offers various niche services designed to meet any travel need or preference. For extended trips on which you plan to stay 30 nights or more, Booking will help you locate discounted rates. After all, in an era of work-from-home and nomadic lifestyles, the old rules don’t apply.
While joining the Genius Loyalty Program will result in big discounts, remember that you will also gain access to other loyalty program features. For instance, at Level 2, you will unlock free breakfast and room upgrades, and at Level 3, you will unlock prioritized customer service.
Booking Mobile App Experience
Booking.com’s app offers a clean interface, is easy to use, and offers access to nearly all of the same services and features that are available on the full web version of the site. While some travel sites have apps that feel like an afterthought built during the stone age of mobile applications, Booking.com’s app is modern and intuitive to use.
While that might seem like generic platitudes, I assure you that the app is top-notch. Quite frankly, the Booking.com app is a world-leading app in the online travel services space, and you don’t have to take my word for it. With more than 800,000 reviews, the Booking mobile app is rated at 4.8 stars.
You can book your entire trip from the app, including local attractions. Plus, Booking offers app-exclusive deals, so it makes sense to check it out. The mobile app also makes it easy to manage your trip from the palm of your hand. For instance, most partner sites offer free cancellations, which you can conveniently take care of wherever you want, and whenever you want to do so.
Kayak.com Services and Features
Do you have a bucket list of places to travel to and the flexibility to go when it makes the most sense? Kayak recently released the perfect tool to help. Utilizing its ‘Best Time To Travel’ tool, start by entering your end destination. Kayak.com will then recommend the best time to travel and help you find flights.
Then, as you search for the best dates to travel, Kayak.com color codes the calendar so that you can see which days in your selected month are the most affordable. Likewise, the calendar clearly warns which days to avoid.
And if you need a vacation package, Kayak offers tools to help you custom-build a vacation. Do you want to stay in a 5-star hotel, or will you accept something less luxurious? Do you prefer for your breakfast to be included with your hotel stay? Or do you want to stay somewhere with a casino on-site or for adults only? Kayak will help you tailor design the perfect package around these preferences.
I love Kayak.com’s approach because they position you in the driver’s seat to develop a travel plan that makes the most sense for you. Too many other competitors use algorithms to show you what the system thinks you want to see. Kayak’s design eliminates the bias of many of these assumptions.
Instead, Kayak provides driver assistance to help you navigate to the right end destination.
Kayak.com Mobile App Experience
Kayak.com’s mobile app has a few unique features that offer convenience and a little fun. In addition to more standard features, including price alerts and flight tracking, the app also has a tool to help you measure your bags. Follow the instructions to scan the bag, and the app will calculate if it is small enough to use as a carry-on.
The app also has a few games embedded, which are kind of fun to play while you wait at your gate. For instance, the first such game involves someone running through the airport and jumping over luggage to make their flight on time. Admittedly, I found myself playing over and over again to try to improve my score.
Still, the Kayak.com app isn’t as popular as the mainstream booking apps, such as those from Booking.com and Expedia. com. Even so, the Kayak app is still rated at 4.8 stars out of 5, with more than 350,000 reviews.
Considering Customer Service
When you compare Booking vs. Kayak on a platform like Trustpilot, you may find that Kayak has a higher customer rating. Still, we caution you to remember that Booking is, well, booking travel with third parties. So customer service gets complicated as customers reach out about third-party experiences. In contrast, Kayak only refers visitors to third-party sites to book travel.
Booking.com Customer Service
Even though it is important to keep in mind that most people that jump online to leave reviews have a score to settle, Booking.com’s Trustpilot score leaves something to be desired. With more than 40,000 reviews, Booking.com’s customer service is rated as “bad.” This is based on the customer scoring 1.2 out of 5 stars. Even so, nearly 10,000 people rate Booking.com as five stars.
As a reminder, Booking.com offers priority customer service to Level 3 customers in its loyalty program. I will let you decide whether or not that makes their Trustpilot rating better or worse. Still, it’s worth considering if you travel often.
Kayak Customer Service
Kayak.com fares better than most of its competitors with its Trustpilot scores. That may be in part because there are only a few thousand reviews. Even so, where several competitors score 1 out of 5 stars, customers rate Kayak.com at more than 3 out of 5 stars.
Interestingly, while Kayak previously offered a loyalty rewards program, I can’t find the program if it still exists. That’s odd, given I was actively looking for it. So, maybe customers truly are looking for more than discounted rates many competitors provide through their loyalty programs.
Another point worth emphasizing is that Kayak often refers you to partner sites rather than allowing you to book travel through their site. So when you see a flight from American Airlines that you like, you might be redirected to AA.com.
And if you find a hotel that you like, you might be redirected to Priceline or Booking. You might think that is strange until you realize that Booking Holdings owns Kayak, Booking, and Priceline.
Perhaps Kayak’s customer service fares better because the brand more or less redirects travel arrangements and customer management to partner sites. That then begs the question: Why use Kayak at all? Well, the unique tools to help you pick the most affordable travel that meets your needs are still the gold standard.
Diving Deeper in Comparing Booking vs. Kayak
So, what’s the story behind these companies? Well, you will quickly find that whether you use Booking or Kayak, both are part of massive conglomerate travel companies. You might scoff, but that scale is also why they have such popular features and pricing.
More About Booking
It’s likely unsurprising that Booking.com is part of Booking Holdings, Inc., but did you know that other travel brands, including Priceline.com, Kayak, Agoda, RentalCars.com, and Open Table, are all part of the same family? Even though there seem to be nearly endless online travel agencies, most of them are part of one of two families.
Booking Holdings is one of the largest aggregations of online travel and related services. The result is greater scale, nearly endless lodging options, exclusive pricing, and a robust rewards program.
Booking.com grew from humble beginnings. The founders created Booking in Amsterdam way back in 1996. I can’t think of many Dutch start-ups that achieved such global prominence, but Booking.com certainly fits that bill. Today, the site offers tens of millions of potential accommodations and a site available in more than 40 languages.
More About Kayak.com
In an era when most online travel sites look the same and offer mostly the same information and prices, Kayak.com works differently. Most sites funnel you towards booking travel through their site. Instead, Kayak searches hundreds of travel sites to find the best prices and deals across the entirety of the internet.
The Kayak family includes brands like SWOODOO, checkfelix, momondo, Cheapflights, and more. In 2013, Booking Holdings (which owns Booking.com and Priceline.com) acquired the Kayak family.
Even so, it is impressive how Kayak.com holds its own place in the market. Compare Priceline vs. Kayak, and you will notice many of the same differences as you see with Booking.com. Still, all three are very different.
Booking vs. Kayak: Which Should You Choose?
In deciding whether to use Booking or Kayak, the question comes down to what you value most. Booking provides one point of management for your travel, while Kayak will likely help you book the cheapest possible travel. Still, there is a place for both experiences.
The Pros and Cons: Booking vs. Kayak
In considering Booking.com, the biggest downside is that they provide limited feedback regarding optimal travel periods or insights that you might find helpful for your travel. On the other hand, this doesn’t matter much if you’ve already picked travel dates. On the plus side, Booking enables you to bundle your travel into one discounted purchase, which you can then manage from the mobile app.
In contrast, you can’t book bundled travel experiences directly through Kayak.com. Instead, Kayak provides you with feedback on optimal travel experiences and ways to save money and then directs you to partner sites. Kayak is great if you are planning a future trip and have flexibility in your travel dates. Using Kayak for this feedback may help you save substantial money. Of course, the downside is you will have to book, track, and manage your travel you multiple portals and apps.
Is Booking or Kayak Better?
My recommendation is that you utilize Kayak.com to research your travel initially. Then use a site like Booking or Priceline actually to book your travel. This will enable you to save money by picking the cheapest dates to travel and the optimal time of year to visit your chosen destination. But then you also get the benefit of bundling and rewards programs.
In comparing Booking vs. Kayak, the reality is they are very different platforms. Regardless of which you choose to use, we hope you enjoy your travels!