A few months ago, I wrote about the various hotel chains’ Best Rate Guarantees. But, I admit that, at the time, I was pretty new to this part of the miles & points hobby. I had always just assumed that hotel chains would logically have the lowest price for their hotel rooms, since there wouldn’t be a middle man with a profit to be made. How wrong I was!!!
Now I’m definitely not such a novice any more, having spent the last couple of months almost addicted to the search for Best Rate Guarantees. So it’s about time to update my advice to help readers take advantage of the various hotel chains’ best rate guarantee programmes.
The first step is to determine what the benefits would be from a successful Best Rate Guarantee claim. Naturally, a best rate guarantee involves matching the lower rate, and that can often be a substantial savings by itself. But it also means that you will be able to receive points from the hotel chains’ loyalty programme, as well as status credit/benefits – in my view, this is the main reason for wanting a successful Best Rate Guarantee claim rather than just booking the lower rate directly.
In addition to simply matching the lower rate and providing points and status benefits, all of the major hotel chains have some form of additional incentive as part of their Best Rate Guarantee programme, which are set out below:
- Hilton HHonors – USD50 as a rate adjustment for hotels outside North America, or as an American Express gift cheque sent through the post for North American hotels.
- Starwood Preferred Guest – 10% discount, or 2,000 Starpoints
- IHG Rewards Club – first night free
- Marriott Rewards – 25% discount
- Hyatt – 20% discount
- Club Carlson – 25% discount
- Melia Rewards – 10% discount
- Best Western Rewards – USD 100 gift card to be spent with Best Western
- Accor Hotels – 10% discount
So, how does one search for Best Rate Guarantee opportunities without spending hundreds of hours on different hotel booking websites? The key is to use one of the websites that search several hotel booking websites at once.
My personal favourite is Kayak. This is mainly because it allows you to filter based on the hotel chain in the “Hotel Name” box (highlighted in red).
It doesn’t take much practice to learn how to quickly find Best Rate Guarantee opportunities. In this example, the blue highlight box shows that Getaroom seems to have a lower price at the Westin Los Angeles Airport than the Westin website, so you’ve managed to find yourself a candidate for a Best Rate Guarantee claim. (assuming you wanted to stay at or mattress run that hotel of course!!)
Before you get too excited, it’s wise to click through the competing rate. Occasionally you’ll get a message saying “the price of your room has changed”, so you should follow the competing booking process until you are asked for a credit card. At that point, the lower rate should definitely be available.
Like I mentioned, Kayak is great for beginners because it lets you filter by hotel chain and BRG candidates are quite obvious right away. However, there are other similar websites, that aren’t quite as user-friendly, but often search on different (and perhaps more obscure) hotel booking websites. Some of the ones I’ve used are Trivago, Hotels Combined and Wego.
Once you’ve found a candidate for a Best Rate Guarantee, don’t delay! If you spend too long contemplating, the great competing price might go away. Most Best Rate Guarantees work on the basis of making a claim within 24 hours of booking. (although Starwood Preferred Guest and Hyatt Gold Passport let you confirm the Best Rate Guarantee before making your booking) And a Best Rate Guarantee will only be approved if the hotel chain agent can find it when they get around to confirming it.
So, your first step should be to make the hotel booking on the hotel chain website. (don’t forget the cashback websites – Topcashback and Quidco) Unfortunately, many of the best hotel rates are non-refundable. In that case, it’s still a good idea to make your booking on a flexible, refundable basis, particularly when trying your first Best Rate Guarantee claims.
Once your booking has been made, each of the hotel chains (except for Hyatt) has an online form to be filled in – it makes sense to do it right away. You fill in the form with details of the competing rate, and wait for the hotel chain to get in touch via email either to approve or reject the Best Rate Guarantee claim. If rejected, you can often enter into a discussion via email with that agent, or at least figure out why your claim was rejected, so that you can potentially re-submit it now or in the future. If I’m not going to try again, I also like to reply to rejections stating that I’m taking my business to another chain – they are probably deleted right away but you never know…
Hopefully your claim will be accepted, and the Best Rate Guarantee desk of the hotel chain will usually amend the rate on your booking, and you’re set for your hotel stay…
Not all Best Rate Guarantee programmes are user-friendly though. In Part 2 I’ll discuss my personal experience with a few of the major chains.