Starwood's BRG program is one of my favorite BRGs because it's easy to use and generally implements consumer friendly policies. Agents are kind and do their job with a lot of common sense.
Terms & Conditions are here http://www.starwoodhotels.com/bestrate/terms.html.
If a BRG claim at Starwood is approved you will receive:
– the price as provided by the comparison site
– 2,000 Starpoints (I value them at $40)
– 10% off the price of the comparison site
If you agree with my valuation of Starpoints you should always use this option for stays under $400 in total charges.
And as noted before once you get BRG approval the stay will count towards status.
Here's how to file a Starwood BRG claim properly:
1) Identify Starwood hotels in the location you'd like to stay
Note that Starwood has a lot of brands and it's sometimes not really apparent a hotel belongs to the group.
Did you know the The Chatwal, New York City was a SPG member but the Le Meridien, Dubai was not a member not until last month?
2) Compare prices between hotel booking sites and spg.com
I usually start out with kayak.com, wego.com and trivago.com. These sites are all meta-search sites where you can browse multiple sites at once. There is also hotelscombined.com, which works very well but has rarely ever found me a BRG, not really sure why. I use up to 50 other sites if I can't find anything there.
I usually filter for 4 star + 5 star and then sort by price. Big cities like Bangkok or New York City can be a challenge but you should have a good overview of SPG prices.
Pull up spg.com in parallel (use multiple tabs in your browser) and compare prices there. I usually concentrate on the lowest price only for simplicity reasons but it's not really all that matters (see 3).
3) Find matching room types
Once you have identified potential 'targets' narrow it down and make sure it's really the same room description and the same 'package' i.e. extra service like breakfast included or not.
The BRG team is interested in the sites where you can book – so don't send them a link to wego.com but to the actual booking site. Note that these search engines sometimes have outdated information – so always start the booking process to verify it's actually bookable.
SPG does not require you to find comparison sites in a matching currency. So any lower price works. Use xe.com to convert currencies if the comparison site does not provide currency conversion.
4) Fill in the claim form
Once you are certain that you have found a BRG pull up the form
The form is easy enough though one wonders why you need to leave all your data again and again even when logged in.
Now for SPG there is no need to make a booking beforehand, they will verify the BRG before you make any booking.
5) Be patient
Wait 24-48hrs and you will get a reply email with an approval or rejection.
Once approved you have 24hrs to make your booking on spg.com and send back the confirmation number.
I always book the best flexible rate irrespective of what the rate I sent in for comparison.
The BRG team will then adjust price only usually.
– while the SPG team is relaxed with multiple currencies they also usually require a certain price difference >1%
– the SPG BRG team used to be very picky with breakfast/no breakfast rates rejecting all claims where the comparison rate would offer breakfast (and still be cheaper) and spg.com not. This seems to have improved and more common sense is applied now.
– the SPG BRG team allows most websites (other programs reject many, more about that in a later installment) but has a pet peeve with sites that seem to be limited to a certain user group (i.e. where it says we only accept Canadian credit cards even if any credit card will work).
– Consider doing several one-night stays (hotel-hopping) instead of a multi-night stay. This way you will be able to get 2,000 Starpoints each night, or at least file multiple claims for multiple consecutive nights. While technically only 2,000 posts should posts often for domestic stays they post for each night.
– To see the booking details in your spg.com 'My upcoming stays' list you will first need to click on 'Send Confirmation via Email'. Once done you will see more details – its' a website bug.
I have filed 100+ BRGs with SPG and had some incredible rates in places like LAX, Northern India and Germany as a result. I think the Starwood BRG is a great tool for hotels that you can match to around $100 and where no C+P availability exists.
The good news is filing BRGs does not change with changing award charts or fluctuating C+P availability. So it's a great too to learn. $40 discount often gets my hotel stays into the $30-$40 range for a great 4 or 5 star hotel where I'll have free breakfast (or extra points) as Platinum and free Internet. Incredible!
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About the author: Torsten is a serial entrepreneur who started almost a dozen ventures on four continents. Torsten's love for travel has brought him to 130+ countries and travel with most of the world's airlines. You can reach Torsten at [email protected]
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