Over the next couple of posts I'd like to share the 'secrets' of the major hotel chains Best Rate Guarantees with you. I have used this tool many times traveling and it's a great weapon in every travelers war chest.
What's the different between Best Rate Guarantee/ Best Price Guarantee/ Look No Further Guarantee?
Every hotel chain prefers a slightly different name but they all mean one thing -the hotel chain is offering to match a better price found on another website (not on the chains website) and may give you an additional incentive.
Which chains provide such a BRG?
– Priority Club (IHG, Intercontinental)
– Choice Hotels
– Club Carlson
– Mövenpick Hotels
– Kimpton Hotels
– Wyndham Hotels
Many OTAs also offer a BRG – notably Expedia.com.
Do all programs offer the same thing?
No. The terms and Conditions vary and so do the incentives for submitting a claim.
Why should I care?
You will pay (much) less and get elite status credits when using a BRG. Here's an example. You plan to book the San Francisco Airport Marriott Waterfront which sells at $299 at marriott.com. At kayak.com you may find the the hotel for $129 but you would loose the status credit and points.
If you use the Marriott LNF you would get an effective rate of $96.75 and would receive status credit and rewards points!
These are savings of $202.25 not accounting for the value of benefits and loyalty program credits!
So how often can I use a BRG?
Most programs impose no restriction with the exception of Choice (once every 30 days) and Expedia (3 per month per account).
Why would hotel chains do that?
Most hotel chains do not own many properties but operate as a franchise group. That means they have only limited control and oversight over the operations of a hotel. The property makes pricing decisions on its own.
The hotel chains usually require every property to provide the best price on the chains website. But this needs to be enforced or it's a hollow promise to consumers. Now even with good tech it's very hard to check prices automatically (room categories, packages etc).
So the chains 'crowd source' the price discovery to consumers in order to enforce their franchise agreement.
But won't this bankrupt chains/hotels? Won't they stop it very soon?
The cost of successful BRG claim is usually born by the property. It has to provide accommodation and gets a separate penalty by the chain. Each chain handles that part differently though.
The BRG programs are very successful in enforcing the franchise agreements and won't be gone anytime soon.
Why do these differences in prices exist?
The Internet is a big (often the biggest) distribution channel for hotels. Hotels often provide different rates to various consumers groups. Such target groups of users may by differentiated by location, language etc.
As an example – travelers from Japan might be used to book expensive hotels only through their local websites. These websites only list a number of properties per non-Japan location (i.e. NYC). Prices tend to be higher because of limited competition and a user group that is ready to pay high prices.
However on expedia.com the same NYC hotel room has much more competition and is adjusted more often on the chains website leading to price discrepancies.
Is it that easy?
There were a number of law suites as hotel chains and OTAs were supposedly engaged in price fixing. And the prices are indeed VERY similar across major OTAs and chain websites.
Many search engines restrict themselves to search through major OTAs (they pay for traffic!) it can be hard to find a comparison site.
So how do I find a BRG?
You will need to find a number of good comparison websites. Each program has its own rules about allowing some sites and not others. In general as higher the reward/incentive as more picky a chain is with which sites and room descriptions will be accepted.
Can someone help me?
There a number of threads on Milepoint and Flyertalk helping you understand BRGs better. There is even a section to request help to find a comparison website.
Isn't there a better service?
Yes – we have gathered a small team to help you do that. We will help you find a BRG opportunity based on your preferences and itinerary. We will only charge your credit card if we can find a better rate that is successfully passing a BRG claim.
Contact us at brg at bluusun dot com.