A Guide to Hotel Best Rate Guarantee Policies
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Picture this: You head to a hotel’s website and book a week’s stay. The next day, you happen to be playing around on another booking website like Hotels.com, and you see the exact same room at the same hotel for the dates you booked for 20% less.
Most hotels will guarantee that the price they offer on their own website is the same or even lowest publicly available price you will see anywhere. They want you to book directly with them rather than through a third-party site like Booking.com, as hotels are required to pay commissions to these third parties. Conversely, there are no commissions for bookings made on the hotel’s own website.
The Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) policies can range from simply offering to match the cheaper price elsewhere and providing a small amount of points as compensation, through to huge discounts on the lower advertised price.
Here is a summary of the Best Rate Guarantee policies of major hotel groups:
- Marriott — Not only match the lower price, but discount it by 25%.
- Hyatt — Choose between a 20% discount on the competing rate or 5,000 World of Hyatt points (worth £75 based on TPG UK’s most recent valuations).
- Hilton — Not only match the lower price, but discount it by 25%.
- Accor — Beat the price by 10%.
- IHG — Match best rate elsewhere and provide 5,000 points per night, up to 40,000 points in total (worth £20 based on TPG UK’s latest valuations, up to £160 in total).
- Radisson — Not only match the lower price, but discount it by 25%.
- Wyndham — Match lower rate and provide 3,000 points.
Now this sort of peace of mind sounds amazing and potentially very lucrative, but these guarantees are largely just a marketing tool and the hotel will do everything they can to get out of actually providing any compensation if you do find a lower price elsewhere. For starters, pricing technology is now very sophisticated and hotels can scan prices everyday and adjust their own advertised prices accordingly to ensure they have the best or equal best price. So, it’s not very likely you will actually see a cheaper price elsewhere because the technology will be checking more thoroughly and regularly than a prospective guest will.
Secondly, these guarantees will usually only be valid if the terms and conditions of the cheaper offer are the same (or worse) than the conditions of the hotel’s own website. This is is where so many guarantee claims are rejected. If the independent online travel agent (OTA) site provides free cancellation up to 48 hours before check-in, while the hotel’s own website only offers free cancellation up to 24 hours before check-in, then a BRG claim will likely be rejected because the hotel offers a more generous cancellation policy, and therefore should be charging more than another site that has a more restrictive policy.
I have never actually successfully completed a BRG because it was either impossible to find a cheaper price elsewhere, or there was a technicality in the terms and conditions that meant the offer was slightly different.
Some BRG policies might also require the OTA with the better price to price in the same local currency as the hotel does, which would deny a claim for an OTA that only prices in USD for a property that is located in and prices in euro.
If you want to apply for a BRG, check the individual hotel’s website for the policy, but in general, the process is as follows:
- Book a room on the hotel’s own website (i.e. the higher price).
- Complete the BRG form on the hotel’s website within 24 hours of booking, with details of the lower rate elsewhere — take screenshots of the price and terms and conditions of the better offer.
- You will be contacted by the hotel’s BRG team for them to advise you if your BRG claim was successful or not.
This process is a little frustrating because if your BRG claim is rejected for something as minor as a slight difference in room description, or a free bottle of water, you are stuck with the higher price you have booked on the hotel’s own website when you could have just booked the lower price.
Just keep in mind that while BRG’s are a fantastic marketing tool for hotels to provide ‘piece of mind’ to their guests, the hotel will also do every single thing in its power to find a way to deny your BRG claim. So, you need to carefully read through the competing offers, as well as ensure you understand and can follow the BRG process to the letter. You may still have an uphill battle even then.
Featured photo courtesy of Intercontinental Hotels Group.