Loyalty to a hotel chain can earn you points and privileges and ensure a Hotel Price Match Guarantee. Many in the industry have mastered 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 stick predominantly 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, etc. Brand loyalty gets you free nights, but you can only receive hotel points if you book directly through the hotel.
I was 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 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 under the “Hotel Price Match” promise.
Wrong. What I have found is that while all hotels have a hotel price match policy. The policies are lathered with technical nuances. They all require you to book with the hotel and 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 a couple of recent examples and save you a headache.
These searches are for New York City. July 26th – August 1st. Six nights for three adults. Standard rooms with two double beds, lowest non-refundable rate selected on all:
Hilton – DoubleTree Metropolitan New York City – Hotel Price Match Guarantee
- Travelzoo: Total price, including all fees and taxes: $1,529 – with or without signing in as a member.
- Hilton Website: Total price, including all costs 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? It is 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 yearly, 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 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. We will honor the hotel price match if we think it is valid. Alternatively, book a better deal. They did not care and made that apparent with statements like “each hotel is individually owned.” Please note that most hotels are franchises operating under a brand — a commonly known fact.
- It’s a sham, intending to get you to book directly at a higher rate.
- Brand loyalty should not require debate or claims to enjoy the best price.
- Hotels looking to keep their clients must revisit their approach to the policies created to stop them from getting the best rate.
- Hotels’ 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 and points.
I don’t think paying an extra $300 or $400 to earn ~15Kin points is a bright idea. Review the rates on a hotel’s website. If they do not have the lowest price, move on and book the most economical rate you find.
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