Not surprisingly, hotel chains (e.g. hilton.com) would prefer you to book directly with them vs a 3rd party (e.g. hotels.com) [no commissions, improved visibility of the customer, etc.]…
A common consumer perception (rightly or wrongly) is that better deals can be obtained via 3rd parties, and as a result, hotel chains want to give consumers confidence that this isn’t the case – they do this via a ‘Best Rate Guarantee’ (BRG).
Why Should You Care About ‘BRGs’?
Hotel chains implement BRGs differently, but in essence, they offer you a discount a discount/reward if you find a 3rd party rate cheaper than their own. Not only does this ‘guarantee’ give consumers confidence that they will never be ‘penalised’ for booking directly (many chains allow you to invoke the BRG after you’ve made the booking), it also provides hotels with the ability to quickly identify and (in theory) ‘resolve’ any pricing variances that may exist.
Per How to Guide: Hotels – “The Basics”, there are advantages to booking directly with the hotel, particularly if you can earn a discount while you’re at it.
Before you head of price-hunting, a couple of overarching comments/tips:
- 3rd party rates must be ‘publicly available’ and without the use of discount codes, etc.
- Terms & Conditions vary wildly between programs, but keep an eye on ensuring room type, package inclusions, application of taxes and cancellation policies are the same
- I’ve had MANY successful claims, however I almost always de-risk the process by either booking a refundable rate or making the claim before booking with the hotel chain
- When comparing the hotel’s rates to 3rd parties, do a quick search on a price comparison site such as hotelscombined.com, but also try some of the smaller sites that may ‘slip past the radar’ such as hoteltravel.com
I’ve compiled a quick list of hotel chains that offer ‘Best Rate Guarantees’ below:
Please note this list isn’t exhaustive, nor have I gone into the detail for each.
- Starwood (SPG): Lower rate matched + 20% discount (off the lower rate) or 2k SPG points
- Hilton: Lower rated matched + $50 credit
- Intercontinental (IHG): Lower rate match + first night free
- Hyatt: Lower rate matched + 20% discount (off the lower rate)
- Accor: Lower rate matched + 10% discount (off the lower rate)