Posted by Ric Garrido

Kayak.com is not your best friend for hotel rates.

I haven’t gone through my OTA rant in a few months now.  OTA is Online Travel Agency. 

Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz are the dominant players in travel searches for hotels.  The value of an OTA is the ability to get a quick snapshot of prices in a city and then quickly book your hotel stay.  Recently all the OTAs have had sales claiming 20%, 40%, even 50% off room rates. 

Kayak.com is on a lot of travelers “Favorite” list for hotel rate searches.  I use Kayak to get an idea of the prevailing hotel rates for an area when I start planning travel.  Kayak.com is a meta-search engine and not an OTA. 

Kayak.com does not actually sell hotel rooms.  A meta-search engine quickly goes through the hotel rates or airfares for a variety of OTAs and pulls up the prices.  Kayak.com takes you to an OTA like Expedia or Orbitz for booking your hotel room or flight once you make a specific selection among the hotel or airline search returns.

Kayak.com is very useful for finding low airfares, but much less useful for hotel rates.

The problem with Kayak.com and OTAs in general is the inability to locate special offer rates or group rates commonly available like AAA and senior group discounts.

Renaissance Eden Roc, Miami Beach – A Tale of Two Travelers

Ellen is a busy executive, but a do it yourself travel planner.  She gets a thrill from looking at websites and picturing herself in the perfect bathing suit, on the perfect beach, in perfect weather, at a great hotel, at the best price.

Ellen goes to Kayak.com and finds the Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach listed at $330. 

Kayak Eden Roc, Miami Hotel Rate

Kayak.com shows Eden Roc Renaissance, Miami Beach for $330

 

 

A pop-up window search for Travelocity.com shows $369 for this Miami Beach, Florida hotel. 

Travelocity Eden Roc Hotel Miami rate

Travelocity hotel rate for Eden Roc, Miami Beach $369

Based on Renaissance Eden Roc’s TripAdvisor ranking of #23 of 207 Miami area hotels and its 4-star rating, Ellen believes the $369 rate pulled up on Travelocity is a fair market rate for this hotel and compared to other hotel rates on Miami Beach like the Fontainebleau.

TripAdvisor Rating for Eden Roc, Miami Beach, #23 of 206 Hotels

TripAdvisor Rating for Eden Roc, Miami Beach, #23 of 206 Hotels

Kayak.com search shows $330 per night through gtahotels.com website.  This may be a good way to save $78 and tax for the two night stay. 

GTAHotels 330 rate Eden Roc Miami BeachGTAHotels rate is $330 for Eden Roc, Miami Beach (Kayak search lead)

Ellen is a savvy traveler and she knows Marriott.com should have the same $330 rate. She will earn Marriott Rewards points by booking through the Marriott website. 

She heads over to Marriott.com and rechecks the rate for Eden Roc, Miami Beach, January 11-13 for two nights.  The rate shows as $369 on Marriott.com for a 14-day advance reservation rate that allows a no penalty cancellation up to 3 days before arrival.  A reservation canceled within three days forfeits one night’s room charges of $416.97.  She doesn’t see a $330 rate on Marriott.com.  Perhaps this is a potential “Best Rate Guarantee” claim with Marriott.

Marriott rate for Eden Roc, Miami

Marriott.com rate for Renaissance Eden Roc, Miami Beach is $369

Always Check Hotel Rate Rules for the fine print on cancellation. 

From the Marriott Website for this $369 rate:

Rate Rules

Holding Your Reservation

·         We will need a credit card number to reserve your room.

Canceling Your Reservation

·         You may cancel your reservation for no charge until January 8, 2009 (3 day[s] before arrival).

·         Please note that we will assess a fee of 416.97 USD if you must cancel after this deadline.

If you have made a prepayment, we will retain all or part of your prepayment. If not, we will charge your credit card.

This fee equals 1 night of your room charge plus tax (for the first night of your reservation).

Modifying Your Reservation

·         Please note that a change in the length or dates of your reservation may result in a rate change.

·         Your current rate may be available if your modified reservation still includes:

·         A reservation made 14 day(s) before your expected arrival.

 

Ellen knows AAA usually brings the rate down even more and repeats the rate search on Marriott.com with the AAA box checked.

Marriott AAA rate Eden Roc Hotel, Miami

Marriott.com AAA rate for Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel, Miami is $386

Oddly enough, the AAA rate is actually more than the 14-day advance reservation rate.  Reading the rate rules, Ellen sees there is no advantage or benefit to the more expensive AAA rate.  The AAA rate also allows a cancellation up to 3 days before arrival date.

Ellen books the two night stay at the Eden Roc Renaissance Resort for $833.94 through the Marriott website because the points and stay credit make the higher price a better value for her hotel lifestyle than the $39 + tax per night she would have saved through her Kayak.com search using gtahotels.com for her booking.  Ellen will earn at least 7,380 Marriott Rewards points for her two night stay at $369/night.

Marriott Eden Roc rate

Marriott.com Total rate for Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida

January 11-13, 2009  $833.94

Hotel Special Offers are Where the Best Deals are Found

Loyalty Traveler booked the Eden Roc Renaissance Resort for the same room type, on the same dates, on the same Marriott.com website and paid $291.54 for his two night stay.  And Loyalty Traveler will earn a $100 hotel credit for his next stay at the Eden Roc Resort.

Marriott Special Offer 129 rate Eden Roc, Miami

Marriott.com $129 Special Offer Rate for Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel, Miami Beach, FL 

Why is there a $542.40 difference in the Marriott.com room rates?

The Loyalty Traveler took the time to look through 12 pages of Marriott Rewards special offers found here.   An offer on page 9 for the Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel showed a $129 special rate valid through January 31, 2009 for Marriott Rewards members:

Marriott Rewards Members’ Sneak Peek of the Bold New Eden Roc

Resort and Spa!!

Includes a great introductory rate, welcome amenity, and a $100

Resort Credit to be used on a return stay in 2009.

Resort Credit cannot be used on current stay*

Resort Credit cannot be applied to room and tax*

Based on Availability*

Restrictions may apply*

Valid 10/24/08-1/31/09*

Marriott Special Offer rate for Eden Roc Hotel Miami

Marriott.com Special Offer Rate of $129 for Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel, Miami Beach

Special Offer Rate of $129 even includes a $100 credit towards a future Eden Roc stay.

And remember to check the fare rules:

Canceling Your Reservation

·         You may cancel your reservation for no charge until January 8, 2009 (3 day[s] before arrival).

·         Please note that we will assess a fee of 145.77 USD if you must cancel after this deadline.

If you have made a prepayment, we will retain all or part of your prepayment. If not, we will charge your credit card.

This fee equals 1 night of your room charge plus tax (for the first night of your reservation).

 

The fare rules for the special offer rate of $129 are the same cancellation rules as the higher $369 rate.

Hotel Corporations are in the business of making money.

Great deals are available on the hotel’s websites, however, a standard search on the corporate-branded websites does not automatically return the lowest available rates for your stay.  You must specifically search special rates like AAA, Senior, and Promotional rates. 

The code is M11 for the $129 special offer for the Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach.  Marriott.com automatically uses the M11 code if you click through the rate search using the special offers page link.

Keep in mind when planning your hotel travel that Kayak.com and OTAs are useful tools, but the best discounts for your hotel stay are often hotel special rates and offers unlikely to be found by these sites.  Even using the hotel-branded websites like Marriott.com will often keep these low rates hidden when searching hotel rates.

There are great hotel deals all the time.  Knowing where and how to find them is the challenge.

 

If You’re Going to San Francisco,

Be Sure to Where Some Flowers in Your Hair,

And also check for the $134 special offer rate for the Renaissance Stanford Court on Nob Hill:

 

http://www.marriott.com/specials/mesOffer.mi?marrOfferId=358706&displayLink=true

 

9 Responses

  1. Wow, I had no idea. This is truly an epic search. I would love to provide a site where those special rates can be searched for, but the data is too well hidden. As for me I use kayak mainly for my airplane search.

  2. I like kayak for airplane searches, but I consistently find lower hotel rates using hotel special offers.

    And there are so many special offers from hotels that it would be a good website. Way beyond my technical ability though. I am still trying to figure out how to get a consistent font size appearing on my blog.

  3. [...] a recent Loyalty Traveler post I titled “Why Kayak is Not Your Best Friend for Hotel Rates” I showed a lower rate found on Kayak.com than appeared on the Marriott site for the Renaissance [...]

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