A Trick for Cheap Hotel Rooms – Best Price Guarantees

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I discovered this trick over New Year’s Eve when I traveled to New York.  I ultimately stayed at a Hyatt property (it was amazing!) but I’ll review that later.  I first want to pass along useful information that I learned in the process…how to score an additional discount on your room rate.

There are several major hotel chains–Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, and IGH– and each has its own Best Price Guarantee.  On a basic level, the Best Price Guarantee encourages you to buy a hotel room directly through the hotel’s website so the hotel does not have to pay a commission to a third-party site (Expedia, Orbitz, etc.).  In return, the hotel guarantees that its site has the cheapest price, which is a gamble because there’s a decent chance that you can find the room cheaper elsewhere.

Policies

I included screenshots of major hotels’ Best Price Guarantee policies but you’ll definitely want to look up the current policy online before attempting this trick.

Starwood-Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin,Four Points, W Hotels, and others.(//www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/whybookhere/terms.html)

It’s interesting that Starwood offers points or 20%.  You’d want points (valued at about $40) for rooms under $200 per stay and you’d want the 20% off for rooms over $200 per stay.  Note that $200 is for the entire stay, not per night.  Here’s an excerpt of the policy:

In the unlikely event that a lower rate at a Starwood Hotel or an SPG Partner Hotel is made available on a non-Starwood website or non-Starwood mobile application (the “Competing Rate”), upon its receipt of a claim that satisfies these Best Rate Guarantee terms and conditions (the “BRG Terms”), Starwood will honor that Competing Rate and provide the individual that submitted the valid claim one of the following rewards: (1) an additional 20% discount off the Competing Rate per room per night; or (2) 2,000 Starwood Preferred Guest® Starpoints® per room per stay.

-For a claim to be eligible under the Best Rate Guarantee, it must be submitted through the claim submittal webform available here.

-A claim must be submitted within 24 hours after making a confirmed reservation through a Starwood Website, and at least 24 hours (48 hours for non-English Starwood Websites) before the standard check-in time at the applicable Starwood Hotel or SPG Partner Hotel.

-A claim form may be rejected by Starwood if it is incomplete, is submitted in an unsupported language, or concerns a non-Starwood website or mobile application that is in an unsupported language.

-Only one claim may be submitted in connection with any confirmed reservation. The name on the submitted claim form for such claim must match the name on the relevant confirmed reservation.

For the Competing Rate to be valid at a Starwood Hotel, it must be a currently available lower published room rate available online or on a mobile application for the same Starwood Hotel, the same dates, the same number of guests, the same room type, with a similar view and room size, and include similar or additional value-added amenities (e.g., free breakfast). For the Competing Rate to be valid at an SPG Partner Hotel, it must be a currently available published room rate available online or on a mobile application for the same SPG Partner Hotel and the same dates that is lower than the lowest rate available on the Starwood Websites, regardless any other factors including the number of guests, room type, view, room size or amenities,

-For purposes of comparing the Competing Rate and the rate available on the Starwood Websites, only the Competing Rate and the rate available on the Starwood Websites that are each available at the time the applicable claim is processed will be considered by Starwood. Starwood will compare the total room cost of a stay, and multiple claims for a stay consisting of two or more nights in the same week at the same hotel or hotels) in the same geographic location (e.g. city) may be treated as one claim for one stay, even if booked through more than one reservation.

-Starwood will convert any Competing Rate offered in a different currency than the rate made available through the Starwood Websites, and may deny claims where it determines that the difference between the rates is due to exchange rate fluctuations.

-Booking fees, extra adult fees, fees for children, rollaway charges will be included in the rate comparison for Starwood Hotels and booking fees will be included in the rate comparison for SPG Partner Hotels. Taxes, gratuities, or any mandatory charges that may apply at Starwood Hotels or SPG Partner Hotels (e.g., resort charges) will be excluded from the rate comparison.

-The estimated value of value-added amenities (e.g., free breakfast, tickets, gas coupons) offered as part of a Competing Rate will be excluded from the rate comparison (unless such amenities are also included in the applicable rate being offered on the Starwood Websites for Starwood Hotels only), and will not be provided by Starwood when honoring a lower rate (unless such amenities are also included in the applicable rate being offered on the Starwood Websites for Starwood Hotels only).

-Starwood may deny claims where the difference between the Competing Rate and the rate on the Starwood Website is less than one percent; provided that Starwood will not use the fact that the difference between the Competing Rate and the rate on the Starwood Website is less than one percent to deny such claims if the cancellation policy for the Competing Rate is more favorable to the guest than the cancellation policy for the rate on the Starwood Website.

(This is not the entire policy; click the above link for the rest of the fine print)

Hyatt-Andaz and hotels with Hyatt in the name. (//www.hyatt.com/hyatt/specials/offers/offer-details_hotels_20.jsp?offerId=40501986)

It takes the Hyatt reps about 24 hours to respond to your claims so you will need to take a screenshot of the other lower price (it likely won’t last for 24 hours).  20% off the lowest rate is median.  Here’s an excerpt of the policy:

Hyatt guarantees that it provides the lowest online bookable rate for room reservations at Hyatt hotels available to the general public on the Internet, subject to the following terms and conditions:

If you find a publicly available and immediately bookable room-only rate on the Internet for a Hyatt hotel (“Competing Rate”) that is lower than the room rate available for the same reservation on //www.hyatt.com (i.e., same hotel, same type of room, same number of guests, same dates of stay and same length of stay), then within 24 hours of booking the reservation on //www.hyatt.com, please submit your claim request online via our online claim form.

If Hyatt confirms the availability of the Competing Rate on the Internet, subject to room availability at the applicable Hyatt hotel, Hyatt agrees to match the Competing Rate for the same reservation, plus discount an additional twenty percent (20%) off the room rate for the duration of the stay being so reserved. This guarantee does not apply to:
•    Reservations booked or claims submitted within 24 hours of arrival at the hotel.
•    Opaque or auction sites where the hotel brand and/or the specific hotel is not known until booking is finalized. Examples of these types of sites include, but are not limited to, Priceline and Hotwire.
•    Websites that “package” travel, entertainment, hotel and/or food components such as airfare and hotel stay, hotel stay and car rental, hotel stay and restaurant voucher, etc. Examples of package websites include, but are not limited, to Site 59 and Delta Vacations.
•    Websites that require a membership regardless if the membership is free or not. Examples of these types of sites include but are not limited to, Hoteltravel.com, Olotels.com, and Onhotel.com.
•    Packaged rates that include taxes, service charges, meals, coupons, parking, services, or other amenities.
•    Qualified discount rates including, but not limited to, Government, AAA or Senior Citizen Discounts.
•    Unpublished, negotiated rates with corporations, travel agencies, groups, associations or other rates that are specifically agreed upon by Hyatt (or a Hyatt hotel) and a specified and limited group, and are not publicly available.
•    Hyatt Residence Club, Hyatt Vacation Club properties or any residential or extended stay apartment properties (e.g. The Galleria Residences in Dubai).

(This is not the entire policy; click the above link for the rest of the fine print)

Marriott-hotels with Marriott in the name, Residence Inn, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, and others (//www.marriott.com/online-hotel-booking.mi)

Marriott offers the highest percentage match at 25% off the lowest price found on another website.

Marriott

(This is not the entire policy; click the above link for the rest of the fine print)

Hilton-Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Garden Inn, Hampton, and others (//hiltonworldwide.hilton.com/en/ww/ourbestrates/overview.jhtml)

Given that Hilton offers a $50 credit, its price match guarantee is excellent for cheap rooms but isn’t as generous for room over $250.

Hilton

(This is not the entire policy; click the above link for the rest of the fine print)

IGH-Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Intercontinental, and others (//www.ihg.com/hotels/us/en/customer-care/lowest-internet-rate-terms-conditions)

You’ll note that IGH has the most generous policy because it provides the first night free, but it is also the hardest to secure because you cannot use screen shots to prove the price of the room on the third party site.  You should also note that IGH has a strongly worded abuse provision.  If “IHG believes that a room eligible for the Guarantee has been resold, or the Guarantee is otherwise being intentionally abused or manipulated to circumvent its intent, IHG reserves the right to reject future Best Price Guarantee claims from any persons who participated in such actions.”  It’s unclear how else someone could “abuse” the guarantee?

IGH

(This is not the entire policy; click the above link for the rest of the fine print)

How to use the Best Price Guarantees

I recently had success with a Hyatt property so I’ll explain what I did.

  1. First, I looked for a room online where either Orbitz or Expedia offered a cheaper price.  (Hotels may not recognize Priceline prices).  You may have to check online multiple times for Orbitz or Expedia to run a sale.
  2. I took a screen shot of the third party website which included the daily room rate, the total rate, the type of room, the length of stay, the number of adults, and the address of the property.
  3. I booked the hotel on the hotel’s website.
  4. I promptly submitted a claim form online.  If there’s an issue with your submission, the hotel will likely give you another 24 hours to resubmit your claim.
  5. I check my updated statement to make sure the compensation is correct.

 

Has anyone else taken advantage of a Best Price Guarantee?

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