How to book accommodation in the Gambia and not overpay

How to choose a hotel or apartments?

We all want to spend a vacation in a beautiful place, with excellent service, and at the same time pay an adequate amount for the services provided. And if for a trip to Germany or Switzerland, we can relax and not really worry about possible problems, then the Gambia, a small country in backward Africa, still requires attention when booking a vacation spot online.

So where to look? There are no local sites for finding housing. Facebook groups are generally useless: you cannot find anything in them unless you are very lucky or you are very patient and spend several days searching.

There are proven options: Booking.com group, Expedia.com group, Airbnb.com, Google & Maps, Trip Advisor. These are the main trading supermarkets, wrapping millions and billions. There are others, smaller ones, but as a rule, they either resell or do not offer anything interesting.

Unsurprisingly the largest selection on Google. In a search engine, or directly on Google Maps there are all the hotels and apartments. If your future housing is not, then I do not advise you to contact, after arrival you may find it far away from the place it was suppose to be.

Directly on Google Maps you can see the prices for the period of time you need. This service is paid, although inexpensive, but requires hotels with certain software for synchronization. As a rule, this is a rarity in the Gambia. But booking.com and expedia.com post all rates without restrictions.

Having chosen a holiday home, I highly recommend reading reviews not only on the seller’s website, but also on independent resources such as Google, Trip Advisor, Facebook.

And now the main thing - we have chosen the dates, the hotel. How to make a reservation? Of course, the hand goes on, click on the booking.com button, relax, and wait for the flight (I hope not TC).

Yes, that’s easy. But did you know that by clicking on this button YOU (not a hotel, but YOU) pay booking.com 18% of the amount? Yes, it seems, well this is included in the price, this is a hotel problem. But you pay. And if you are rich and you don't care, then ok, this is what booking.com does with your money:

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/11/05/travel-giant-booking-spent-1-billion-on-google-ads-in-the-quarter.html

Same thing with Expedia, and same thing with Airbnb (other proportions). All aggregators earn from 15 to 20% of the money for your vacation.

How to avoid this? Often - no way. You liked the place, but the girl or guy at that end is not tastier and don't really understand what you want from them. The hotel does not have its own site, or it is, but there is nothing on it. 

But there are also pleasant surprises. Responsive owner or manager understands the business economy, and now, in your email, the price of accommodation without commission. Or it turned out that the hotel has its own, modern website, on which you can also pleasantly press a button, but ... this button is 15% cheaper. Nicely? Or will you continue to feed booking.com? The choice is always yours.

How to pay for?

So, you have chosen a hotel, found a direct website, or a pleasant owner - manager, a reservation in your pocket. Terms of payment are different, as are deposits, and payment upon delivery. Many owners have accounts in Europe, and it is safe and easy to pay with a UK / EU bank. And pay the balance in cash upon arrival.

What to concentrate on. In the case of a deposit, it must be understood that if you change plans, you may lose it. Depends on the booking conditions and the owner. There are many honest, conscientious owners, and there are greedy ones. As an everywhere. It’s just that in Europe we have regulations for direct reservations, here - in the Gambia - they are not.

What is not recommended is credit card payment in local currency. This option is often offered by local hotels as a payment option on arrival (terminal). Remember - if you pay with a credit card in local currency, you immediately lose from 10 to 15%. And do not listen to any assurances from the hotel staff. They don’t understand ANYTHING! If you want to check, pay and then look at the printout of your bank. I have not yet seen a single hotel in the Gambia that would carry out terminal payments in EUR / GBP / USD. There are several hotels that have the ability to process credit cards in Euros and pounds online, I set up these payment systems myself, this works great for the benefit of both business and guests. 

But if it’s not a problem for you to take cash with you on a trip, just take the money with you. And you will make the rest easier for yourself and others)

Have a good holidays and welcome to the Gambia!

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