Being loyal to a hotel chain can earn you points and privilege and ensure a Hotel Best Price Match Guarantee. Many in the industry have mastered the art of collecting and maximizing hotel points. I do not consider myself an expert in this arena. But, I have earned myself at least 50 free nights over the years, maybe more. My strategy is to predominantly stick with one hotel chain and take advantage of offers from other chains. For example, I will sign up for a credit card for free nights. I have also earned free nights on Expedia, Hotels.com, and so on. Brand loyalty gets you free nights, but you can only receive hotel points if you book directly through the hotel.
I am in the process of shopping for our hotel for NYC in July. Ideally, I would log in to one of my loyalty accounts, find the best deal, and then book. I want to earn points and keep my status. After all, if this is not the best price, the hotel will match the lower rate. Wrong. What I have found is that while all hotels have a rate match policy. The policies are lathered with technical nuances. They all require you to book with the hotel first then submit a claim. The showstopper is the hotel chain that will validate within 24 hours. Who is to say the lower rate will be available after 24 hours?
Let me share with you a couple of recent examples and save you a headache.
These searches are for New York City. July 26th – August 1st. 6 nights for three adults. Standard rooms with two double beds, lowest non-refundable rate selected on all:
Hilton – DoubleTree Metropolitan New York City – Hotel Best Price Match Guarantee
- TravelZoo: Total price, including all fees and taxes: $1,529 – with or without being signed in as a member.
- Hilton Website: Total price, including all fees and taxes: $1,807 – signed in as a member.
I called Hilton on this one. Hilton will not honor this rate because they consider this rate a member-only price. Not true. You can book this rate even if you are not a member of Travelzoo. Hilton also wanted to debate if this was an apple to apple comparison. For example, could the rate I received on TravelZoo be canceled? Irrelevant because the lowest price on Hilton is a pre-paid non-refundable rate. I am still mulling over, taking them to the task, and filing a claim to make my point and hold them accountable. The flip side is I am considering divorcing the Hilton. I have had a great 20-year relationship with them that is close to over. Hilton’s loyalty program depletes every year, and the points needed for award nights continue to rise. The only advantage Hilton currently has is its presence; they are everywhere.
IHG – Crowne Plaza: Times Square Manhattan – Hotel Best Price Match Guarantee
- Booking.com: Total price, including all fees and taxes: $1,665 – not signed in as a member.
- IHG Website: Total price, including all fees and taxes: $2,067 – signed in as an IHG member.
I called IHG on this. Their response was interestingly black and white. Book with us and submit a claim. If we think it is valid, we will match the rate. Alternatively, book the better deal. Frankly, they did not care and made that apparent with statements like “each hotel is individually owned.” Please, most hotels are franchises operating under a brand — a commonly known fact.
- It’s a sham, with the intent of getting you to book directly with a higher rate.
- Brand loyalty should not require debate or claims to enjoy the best price.
- Hotels looking to keep their clients need to revisit their approach to the policies created to stop you from getting the best rate.
- Hotel best price match guarantees are more hassle than they are worth the time trying to secure.
- As a consumer, you need to decide between the price over points.
I don’t think paying an extra $300 or $400 to earn ~15K in points is a smart idea. Review the rates on a hotel’s websites. If they do not have the lowest price, move on, and book the most economical rate you find.
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