Jan222009

Take this reservation and cancel it.

A Hilton Garden Inn email advertisement caught my attention this morning and almost entirely wasted an hour of my time.

hgi-up-to-25-off-ad

 Hilton Advance Purchase Rates – Key words are “Up To”, not 25% Off

 
 

 

I focused on “25% Off” and started writing about this offer.  The highlighted words of this offer should be “Up To” since I did not find anything close to a discount deal for hotels I checked. 

Although there is little of merit in the Advance Purchase Rates as far as saving you real money at most hotels, I will get a diatribe against nonrefundable rates out of the time I invested looking into this email advertisement from Hilton Garden Inn.

The Terms and Conditions footnote font is so small that I struggle to read it with my glasses on.

 

*Subject to limited availability at participating hotels. Non-refundable, full advance payment required for Advance Purchase Rate. Other restrictions apply. Best available rate is a specific rate type that varies depending on time of purchase, is unrestricted, non-qualified and excludes discount or negotiated rates not available to the general public, including, but not limited to: membership, corporate, government, promotional, group, packages, unpublished or rates only available on auction websites.

 

Asterisked Footnote (in a font size I can read.)

 

*Subject to limited availability at participating hotels. Non-refundable, full advance payment required for Advance Purchase Rate. Other restrictions apply. Best available rate is a specific rate type that varies depending on time of purchase, is unrestricted, non-qualified and excludes discount or negotiated rates not available to the general public, including, but not limited to: membership, corporate, government, promotional, group, packages, unpublished or rates only available on auction websites. 

From the full promotional rate ‘Terms and Conditions’ in the ‘Up To 25% Off’ ad comes this clause:

Reservation cannot be modified: Price quoted applies to exact date(s)/nights/stay booked. Modifications to your reservation (including but not limited to name changes, date changes, etc.) are not permitted.

 

Loyalty Traveler anecdotal tip: 

Best Available Rate, often printed as BAR in hotel industry articles, is not the same as the lowest rate.  In fact the BAR rate is generally not the lowest available rate on any given day for any given hotel. The BAR room rate generally can be cancelled without penalty.  My anecdotal observation from several years of hotel room rate searches is the Advance Purchase rate is the lowest rate only about 1/3 of the time for upscale hotels. The lowest rate for a hotel room is generally a Group rate (AAA or senior rate), a nonrefundable rate, or a hotel special offer that saves 10% to 25% on the Best Available Rate. 

 

AAA automobile club membership rates are the lowest hotel rate about a third of the time in my hotel searches for USA major chain hotels like Marriott, Hilton, and Sheraton .  

 

Advance Purchase, nonrefundable rates are slightly lower than the AAA rate about a third of the time.  Sometimes the nonrefundable rate will be significantly lower than any other rate. Then, you need to take a personal risk assessment of spending your cash on the spot for a future hotel stay reservation that will not be refunded if you must cancel.

 

AAA discount rates at hotels generally allow the room to be cancelled without penalty using terms close to the BAR cancellation terms.  Most hotels tend to allow cancellation of a reservation without a penalty up to one or two days before arrival, and some hotels even allow cancellation up to 6:00pm hotel time on day of arrival without penalty.  Vacation resort hotels tend to have most restrictive rules for cancellation.

 

The remaining third of the time the lowest rate is the BAR rate or a special offer rate found through the hotel’s own website rather than the corporate booking site.  For example, check the San Francisco Hilton Hotel website for special offers that are not displayed on the Hilton Hotels corporate website or HHonors reservations.

 

Hilton Garden Inn Advance Reservation Rate Search Results

The Advance Purchase rate of $188.00 is only a 10% discount on the $209 Best Available Rate (BAR) for the Hilton Garden Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport. The AAA rate only costs a dime ($0.10) more than the nonrefundable rate and allows cancellation at any time up to day of arrival without a hotel charge. 

 

 hilton-garden-inn-fll-airport-rates1

Hilton Garden Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport Room Rates – February 6, 2009

 

Hilton Garden Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport Advance Purchase rate terms:

Guarantee Policy:
Full payment in advance is required for this reservation. Your credit card will be charged 208.68 USD immediately.

 

Cancellation Policy:
If you cancel for any reason, attempt to modify this reservation, or do not arrive on your specified check-in date, your payment is non-refundable.

 

AAA rate Cancellation policy for Hilton Garden Inn Fort Lauderdale Airport:

If you wish to cancel, please do so by 4pm, hotel local time, on the day of arrival to avoid cancellation penalties. 

 

I personally avoid nonrefundable rates whenever possible.  I would have wasted thousands of dollars over the years if I went the nonrefundable rate to save $5 or $10 per night.  I generally only book nonrefundable hotel room rates a day or two before arrival when the probability of making the hotel stay is extremely high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Pingbacks

Comments are closed.