Last Updated: June 8, 2023
Trip.com generally offers cheaper rates than booking directly with a hotel, airline, or car rental company.
As a result, the following questions surely arise in the mind of a first-time user:
- Is Trip.com legit, reliable, and safe?
- Why is Trip.com cheaper than booking direct?
- Should I book through Trip.com?
So if you’re also looking for the answer to these questions, this article is for you.
Let’s begin straight away.
Is Trip.com Legit?
Trip.com is legit as it is owned by Trip Group, the world’s leading online travel company. However, booking through Trip.com carries greater risks of issues than booking directly since it acts as an intermediary between the customer and the travel provider.
Though problems can happen with booking directly as well, the chances are much lower compared to booking through Trip.com.
Why are the risks associated with Trip.com high?
Well, it is due to the involvement of a third party (Trip.com).
Let me explain!
Basically, Trip.com solely acts as an intermediary between the traveler (you) and the hotel, airline, car rental companies, and other travel services.
As a middleman, Trip.com collects the payment and is responsible for your booking.
Since your contract is not directly with the hotel, car rental, or airline company you booked with, they are not responsible for your booking, and don’t expect any direct help from them.
In case of any issues between you and the travel provider, you will have to involve Trip.com, and then they will reach out to its partner travel provider on your behalf to resolve the matter.
But the problem is:
There is a lack of customer support on Trip.com.
It is not just Trip.com where customer service can be lacking; online travel agencies (OTAs) generally skimp on customer service to keep their costs down and offer you cheap bookings.
The lack of customer support is one of the reasons why Trip.com and other OTAs are able to offer cheaper rates than direct bookings.
Therefore, if you’ve booked through Trip.com then there is a good chance you are going to be stuck in a lot of back and forth between you, the host, and Trip.com before your issue is finally resolved.
However, there are possibilities that your issue might not be resolved either, especially if it is urgent due to the lack of customer service.
Similarly, when you are booked through Trip.com then it becomes complicated to make changes or cancellations to your bookings, especially in the case of flight reservations.
While you may be able to easily make changes or cancellations to other travel services, doing so for a flight reservation is very challenging.
In fact, it is almost impossible to cancel or change flights booked through Trip.com.
The reason is that even if you booked directly with the airline, making changes, especially cancellations to your flight, is challenging.
And if you booked flights through Trip.com, things are going to be more complicated because of the third party involvement.
Having a middleman can complicate any mishaps because airlines will tell you to coordinate any issues through Trip.com rather than offering you direct assistance.
And Trip.com may then turn around and push things back to the airline, leaving you stuck in the middle.
On the other hand, it is far more convenient to make amendments, cancellations, or resolve other issues when you book directly since there are no intermediaries involved.
Additionally, the travel provider (hotels, airlines, car rental, etc.) gives high priority to customers who booked directly with them rather than those who booked through Trip.com.
The reason is simple:
They make more profits from direct sales over those made through Trip.com since they won’t have to pay any fees.
Aside from that, it is much easier for them to manage the customers who booked directly rather than those who booked through online travel agencies like Trip.com, Booking.com, Agoda, Expedia, Kiwi.com, Super Travel, etc.
One example of it is that the hotels may not receive your booking confirmation from Trip.com, resulting in overbooking for the same room.
Because of this, there have been many instances where a guest has been stranded in a strange city without any room availability in the hotel, despite making an advance booking with them through Trip.com.
Direct bookings, on the other hand, do not have any risks of missing your booking confirmation since there are no third parties involved (Trip.com).
In a nutshell:
Trip.com works out just fine until something goes wrong.
The major advantage of booking anything through Trip.com is that they usually offer cheaper prices than booking directly.
But if things go wrong, it gets complicated to make cancellations, changes, or resolve any other issues when you’re booked through them because of the involvement of an intermediary (Trip.com).
Having said that, let’s conclude: Is Trip.com legit?
Even though booking through Trip.com carries a higher risk of issues than booking directly, it is indeed a legitimate platform.
Trip.com’s legitimacy cannot be questioned because it is owned and operated by one of the largest online travel companies in the world, Trip.com Group (formerly Ctrip.com), who also owns Skyscanner, Ctrip, and Qunar.
If Trip.com were a scam company, it probably would not be a part of the Trip.com Group.
Considering these facts, one can easily judge whether or not Trip.com is legitimate.
Should You Book Through Trip.com or Directly?
There is almost never a reason to book through Trip.com if the price difference is the same or slightly cheaper.
However, if the price difference between booking through Trip.com and directly is significant then it mostly comes down to personal comfort.
Personally, I highly recommend you to AVOID booking flights through Trip.com
As you know, the process of making changes, cancellations, or resolving other issues becomes more complicated if you’ve booked flights through Trip.com.
Contrary to this, dealing directly with the airline is much more convenient in case of changes, cancellations, or any other problems.
I always recommend booking flights directly even though the price difference is significant.
Additionally, I do not recommend Trip.com for booking rental cars, taxis, and other travel services except hotels.
I only recommend Trip.com for booking hotels but only under the following conditions:
- The price difference is significant between booking directly and through Trip.com.
- Booking an average hotel, not an expensive luxury hotel.
- Not making reservations for a large number of days at once.
Apart from these conditions, you must be aware of these:
8 Tips To Book Safely on Trip.com
Before you book anything, here are the eight tips you need to know to minimize the risks associated with booking through Trip.com:
1. Choose a Safe Destination For Your Stay
Before you book, thoroughly research the travel destination you’re considering for your stay to be aware of common scams, political issues, and other safety concerns.
Look for an area that appears safe and friendly.
I highly recommend you to always book your stay in urban areas, where there are plenty of people and access to basic facilities in case you need any help.
2. Check The Photos of The Hotel & Its Rooms
Prior to booking any accommodation, check multiple photos of it provided in the listing.
If the property seems good to you, then make sure to check the photos of the room you’re considering booking.
Note: The hotel presents its best side to you in the photos. To get a realistic picture of a hotel and its rooms, you need to:
3. Read Guest Reviews
Be sure to read guest reviews thoroughly before booking your accommodation to know what other guests have said about the property.
It is recommended to choose your accommodation with a minimum of 70+ reviews and a star rating of at least 4 out of 5 and also check the photos uploaded by other guests in the reviews.
By checking the reviews, you can get plenty of behind-the-scenes insights into what the accommodation is like and what to expect from it before making your reservation.
In case you’re wondering:
Are the reviews on the properties listed on Trip.com real?
Absolutely, since the reviews can only be submitted by people who have genuinely stayed with the property before.
4. Be Aware of Policies
Oftentimes, guests overlook the policies when booking which results in unsuccessful cancellations and refunds later on.
To avoid such issues, be aware of the room cancellations and refund policies before booking.
In addition, make sure to read the property policies as well.
Similarly, carefully read the policies of other travel services (flights, cars, taxis, etc.) when booking through Trip.com.
However, I do not recommend booking anything through Trip.com except hotels.
5. Check Your Hotel & Room Amenities
Before making the reservation, make sure the hotel you’re considering has the amenities you need.
Most importantly, you should also check if the room has the amenities you require.
Following the tips above, you’re ready to book your accommodation.
When booking, however, you must:
6. Make Sure The Booking Details Are Correct
Providing incorrect details can cause problems, especially in the case of flight reservations since making changes to flights booked through Trip.com is almost impossible.
To avoid any problems, make sure the booking details are correct when booking anything through Trip.com.
7. Confirm Your Booking
As you know, one of the major risks associated with booking a hotel through Trip.com is that the hotel you’re booked with might not receive your booking confirmation from Trip.com.
This could result in no room availability when you arrive at the property.
To avoid such problems, you must confirm your booking from the hotel as soon as you book and before arriving at the property.
With that being said, the final tip for you is to:
8. Print Out Your Itineraries
Upon successful booking, Trip.com will send you a confirmation email outlining the details of your stay, what’s included in your package, cancellation and refund policies, and other important information.
While you can present an electronic copy of your booking confirmation at check-in, it is preferable to print out your itineraries before you begin your vacation to avoid any problems.
There you have it!
By following these eight tips, you are less likely to run into any problems when booking through Trip.com.
Why Trip.com Is Cheaper Than Booking Directly?
Trip.com is able to offer cheaper prices than booking directly because of these two primary business models they employ:
- Merchant Model
- Agency Model
1. Merchant Model
Trip.com uses the merchant model to buy hotel rooms or another type of booking in advance and in bulk to get discounts and then turns around and sells them to you and me over time at a higher price, passing some of its commission on to us.
Confused? Consider this example:
Trip.com uses its purchasing power to buy rooms in bulk and in advance to get a discount rate from the hotel.
For instance, Trip.com books a block of 50 rooms from a hotel for $100 per night while the current market rate sits at around $150 per night.
Over time, Trip.com resells those rooms at a higher price but not than the current market rate by the hotel.
- Trip.com gradually resells those 50 rooms for $130 per night.
- Trip.com profits $30 if one customer books a room through them.
- The customer (you) is still able to purchase below the current market rate by the hotel which can’t be lower than $150 since Trip.com already reserved those rooms.
By selling these rooms at a higher price than they purchased them for, Trip.com made a profit but also presented savings to us over the current market rate.
Trip.com also employs the merchant model with airline tickets, cars, and other travel services and then combines the different bookings to offer an attractive vacation package with built-in savings over booking the components independently.
So that’s one of the major reasons why Trip.com is able to offer cheaper prices to us than booking directly.
Another reason how they are able to offer cheaper rates is because of:
2. Agency Model
In the agency model, Trip.com acts as a salesperson and facilitates a booking between the customer and the hotel, airline, car rental company, and other travel services it provides.
To help them sell their bookings, Trip.com gets a commission in exchange.
Basically, Trip.com allows anyone to list on their platform for free and charges a percentage of commission (varies between 10% to 20%) from them once a sale is made through their platform.
Since the travel providers (hotels, airlines, taxis, etc.) pay a commission to Trip.com when a traveler books through them, Trip.com, in turn, may pass some of that commission on to consumers.
Thus, Trip.com is able to offer you cheaper rates than booking directly.
As far as the legitimacy of Trip.com is concerned, it is certainly a legitimate online travel agency.
However, if something goes wrong when you’re booked through Trip.com, resolving your issues and making changes or cancellations can be challenging.
Although issues can arise even if you are booked directly, the chances are lower and it is much easier to resolve your problems since there are no third parties involved (Trip.com)
On the plus side, Trip.com typically offers cheaper rates than direct bookings with the hotel, airline, and other travel services.
To wrap up, here are my two cents:
Avoid booking everything, especially flights, through Trip.com except hotels or other types of accommodation but only under these conditions:
- The price difference is significant.
- You’re not booking an expensive luxury hotel.
In addition, you must be aware of the safety tips shared above before you book your stay.
Hopefully, all of your concerns are cleared up regarding Trip.com’s legitimacy, reliability, and safety.
If you’ve any questions or want to share your personal experience, please feel free to comment below.
Is Trip.com Reliable?
Trip.com is reliable for booking hotels, but only when you do your due diligence before booking. However, it is not very reliable for booking flights, car rentals, and other travel services.
Is Trip.com Safe?
As far as the safety of your account and personal information is concerned, Trip.com is certainly a safe and secure platform. However, it is not very safe and reliable for booking flights, car rentals, and airport transfers.