Agoda is one of the world’s largest and fastest- growing online travel booking platforms. Based in Asia and part of Booking Holdings.
Agoda.com is an online travel agency and metasearch engine for hotels, vacation rentals, flights, and airport transfer. It is owned by Agoda Company Pte. Ltd., headquartered in Singapore, and a subsidiary of Booking Holdings.
In 2015, USA Today deemed Agoda’s reward program to be the worst out of the four booking sites it reviewed.
Hotel Burglary Incident
In 2018, a customer who booked through the website had items stolen from her hotel room due to poor security. Agoda gave her a goodwill refund, but did not remove the hotel or allow her to post a review criticizing the hotel for legal reasons. A security consultant discussed how this policy reduces the number of negative reviews and that negative reviews are sometimes diluted.
Refusal to offer refund
In 2017, Agoda initially refused to give a refund to a customer that booked a non-existent hotel. The incident gained traction on social media, and Agoda eventually paid a refund following a fraud complaint filed with the Thai government.
Difficulty in leaving the platform
In 2019, Agoda was criticized for difficulties with customers removing their homes from the website. The customers cited customer service issues.
Probe of hotel sites by United Kingdom
In 2017, Agoda, among other hotel sites, was subject to a probe by the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom. The probe was related to “concerns about hidden charges, pressure selling tactics, misleading discount claims and the order in which results appear on the site pages.” Agoda agreed to change how it operates in response to this probe.
Requests to Drop illegal Hotels
In 2017, the Tourism Minister of Thailand called for Agoda among others to drop illegal and unregistered hotels. Agoda was the main target of criticism among those criticized, and its success is part of what drove the Ministry of Tourism & Sports to create a competitive hotel booking website. In 2018, Agoda cooperated with the Taipei City Government’s request to remove illegal and unregistered Taipei hotels from its listings.
Agoda faced legal action from the Turkish Travel Agencies Association due to alleged unfair competition in relation to the country’s competition law. It faced a potential ban as part of this lawsuit.
In November 2018, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission issued a remedial order to Agoda on its refund policies following its noncompliance with a ruling they made.
Text messages to customers
In 2018, a class action lawsuit in the U.S. accusing the company of spamming customers by sending them text messages confirming reservations and promoting the mobile app was dismissed, as the courts deemed them to be transactional messages, and thus no express written consent was required.
Reduction in hotel profits
Agoda’s Mix and Save feature leads to shorter stays, which increases hotel upkeep costs thereby reducing profits.
Agoda was co-founded by Michael Kenny and Robert Rosenstein. Prior to Agoda, Michael Kenny started two other hotel booking websites, PlanetHoliday.com and PrecisionReservations.com, but combined companies into Agoda in 2003, launching Agoda.com in 2005.
In 2007, Agoda was acquired by Booking Holdings (formerly The Priceline Group).
In July 2011, Agoda launched iOS and Android mobile apps for booking hotels.
In 2014, Booking Holdings acquired Qlika, an Israel-based startup focused on optimization of pay-per-click advertising, and the Qlika team joined Agoda to automate and scale its marketing systems.
In May 2016, Booking Holdings acquired WooMoo, a Taipei-based startup focused on mobile app prototyping, and the WooMoo team joined Agoda in Bangkok to work on mobile app development.
In May 2016, Agoda reviews began to appear on Google search results.
In 2017, Agoda began exploring non-hotel accommodations to try and appeal to millennials.
In 2018, CEO and co-founder Rob Rosenstein became the Chairman of Agoda and a Strategic Advisor to Booking Holdings. John Wroughton Brown, the COO, was promoted as the new CEO of Agoda, with Chief Product Officer Omri Morgenshtern, who joined the company as part of the Qlika acquisition, named as the new COO.
In April 2019, Agoda announced an interest in pursuing greater business emphasis in Israel and Europe, particularly expanding its Tel Aviv-based data science team, increase sales, and purchase promising Israeli startups.
In September 2019, Agoda began work with Digitas for data-driven content marketing across various Asian markets.
In October 2019, Agoda added a feature called Mix and Save, which allows customers to easily book a different room for every night of stay to get the best deal.
In May 2020, Agoda lays off 1,500 people as it struggles to cope financially amid Covid19.
Agoda offers over 2.5 million properties globally. In addition to its accommodation booking platform, Agoda also has its own flight product, allowing users to book airfares on its site without having to leave the platform. This was introduced in October 2019.
The Agoda VIP program enables participating properties to offer exclusive discounts to Agoda VIP status customers, categorized as VIPs because they have made a minimum of five bookings on Agoda in the past 24 months, and are less inclined to cancel bookings. Hotel partners receive special VIP badges displayed on their property on both Agoda.com and on the Agoda mobile app.
Agoda offers a “Book Without a Credit Card” option for hotels in Indonesia and Philippines, and is the first online digital travel booking platform to enable Australians to book and pay for their holiday accommodation via interest-free instalments.
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