Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hotel Best Rate Guarantees

All the major hotel chains have a "Best Rates Guarantee" advertised on their websites. Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, and Starwood all run ads on their websites stating the hotel guest need look no further than the corporate branded websites for the lowest online hotel rates.

And they are almost always correct in stating lower rates will not be found elsewhere (group rates like AAA, auction/bid sites and vacation packages are excluded from guarantee).

Over the years I have tried to utilize the best rate guarantee with several hotel chains to no avail.

Three of the big five programs, Hilton, InterContinental, and Marriott have a precondition that is hard to justify for a hotel guest desiring the lowest hotel room rate. The requirement states a reservation must be made with the hotel chain through a corporate-owned website (e.g. book a Marriott Courtyard through the Marriott Rewards website or book a Doubletree hotel on the Hilton Hotels website), and only after you have booked your room, if you find a lower rate on a third party online travel agency site (like Expedia and Orbitz) for essentially the same room type (and special rates like senior, AAA rates are excluded from guarantee), then you can submit a request for a rate guarantee.

I have tried several times over the years to get a rate guarantee and always to no avail. The room type wasn't considered the same or even more commonly is being told that I must first book the higher rate on the hotel-branded website and then I can submit a request for the best rate guarantee.

A gamble I won't take is to pay $180 for a room and then wait to see if my rate guarantee applies when there is a $120 room on Orbitz or Expdia or Travelocity. I will just book the $120 room and not be concerned about whether I could have got a discount on the $120 or end up paying $180 if the Best Rates Guarantee is found to be ineligible for the situation.

Hyatt and Starwood have the sensible "Best Rate Guarantee" policy of being able to submit your request to the hotel corporation prior to making your hotel booking.

This morning is the first time I have actually submitted a successful best rate guarantee. I have been trying to get my wife to come hang out in the Wine country and San Francisco this weekend and I waited until this morning to finalize my Hyatt "Stays Count Double" final hotel run. I checked all the rates again last night and there had been very little change in rates over the past three weeks.

This morning I went to make my reservations and the Hyatt Place Fremont went from $89 AAA rate to $113 rate as the lowest available for my dates. The best available rate had increased from $99 to $119 on the Hyatt website. I happened to look on Orbitz and Expedia and the rates were still $99 for the same room type and dates.

I called up the Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee number 1-888-964-9288 and informed them I had found a lower rate on Expedia and Orbitz. The agent placed me on hold for several minutes and then returned to state the $99 rate was also available through Hyatt and I could make the reservation with him.

I asked the agent to hold while I rechecked and told him I still only saw the $119 rate on my computer and the $99 rate only shows as a government employee rate. He placed me back on hold for several more minutes and then came back to state I qualified for the Best Rate Guarantee and I could reserve the room at the Hyatt Place Fremont for $79.20 for my dates.

An email confirmation within minutes showing my reservation confirmation and the $79.20 rate and I am so pleased to have finally have a hotel chain honor the best rates guarantee BEFORE I booked the room.

Another positive note for Hyatt.

And 10 days after starting my "Stays Count Double" Hyatt elite status hotel run, my Platinum status is reflected in my profile and I have earned enough points for one free hotel night at the low end hotels.

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