Nov212009

Newly Enhanced Orbitz Lowest Price $50 Guarantee

“Under the new program, customers who find their prepaid hotel room available for a lower price on any site, including Orbitz, can receive a refund for the difference and a $50 discount on a future hotel or vacation package booking. Plus, Orbitz now allows customers to submit a claim right up to the time of the property’s cancellation deadline.” http://pressroom.orbitz.com/index.php?s=43&item=770

This looks like a great Best Rate Guarantee policy. Loyalty traveler took it out for a test spin. How hard can it be to find a Best Rate Guarantee claim? Both Travelocity and Orbitz offer $50 if their site doesn’t have the lowest rate. This means their rates have to match perfectly right?

Price Discrepancy 1:

Hilton Garden Inn Monterey

2 nights for Friday, December 11 – Sunday, December 13

 

·         Travelocity          $110.71 (nonrefundable)

·         Orbitz                    $110.72 (nonrefundable)

·         Hilton                    $111.00 (nonrefundable)

There should be at least two valid Best Rate Guarantee claims since there are three different prices and obviously Travelocity is the lowest rate. Orbitz Lowest Price Guarantee Claim form.

The issue with Orbitz.com is each of these rates is a nonrefundable rate and the cancellation period is passed the moment you make a reservation. The Orbitz policy claims a customer can “submit a claim right up to the time of the property’s cancellation deadline.” Once the customer has booked the Orbitz.com reservation the cancellation deadline has passed.

The total price for the Orbitz hotel room comes out to $245.78 with tax and fees.

Hilton lists the total price as $246.36. The $0.58 difference should make for a valid claim using the  Hilton Hotels Best Rate Guarantee. Hilton gives you a $50 American Express gift cheque if a Best Rate Guarantee claim is validated.

Price Discrepancy 2:

For the same weekend the rates are highest at Orbitz.com for the Hyatt Regency Monterey. Again, the room type is the same, but the rates vary by pennies. This time the Hyatt website has the lowest rate.

Hyatt Regency Monterey

2 nights for Friday, December 11 – Sunday, December 13

 

·         Hyatt.com                           $119.40

·         Travelocity.com                $119.43

·         Orbitz.com                          $119.47

Hyatt.com hotel rate for Hyatt Monterey, Dec 11-13, 2009

Hyatt.com hotel rate for Hyatt Monterey, Dec 11-13, 2009

 

 

 

Is Orbitz.com Low Price Guarantee any good in this case?

Orbitz.com Hyatt Monterey rate, December 11-13, 2009

Orbitz.com Hyatt Monterey rate, December 11-13, 2009

Again, the rates being compared are nonrefundable rates. The cancellation deadline has passed for the Hyatt Regency Monterey hotel the moment you submit your reservation payment to Orbitz. And this time you do not have a lower Hyatt rate to fall back on for a claim with the hotel company. (Hyatt discounts a lower rate by 20% if a Best Rate Guarantee claim is validated.)

Travelocity.com Hyatt Monterey rate, December 11-13, 2009

Travelocity.com Hyatt Monterey rate, December 11-13, 2009

In this example Travelocity should be a valid Best Rate Guarantee. The rules only consider the base rate and not any additional fees or taxes associated with the hotel stay.

“The Price and Service Guarantee applies only to the base cost, and not tax recovery charges and service fees, of standalone Flight, Hotel, Car, and Cruise bookings.”

Travelocity Best Rate Guarantee terms:

For a prepaid “Good Buy” Hotel (excluding Top Secret Hotels) if you find a Qualifying Lower Rate up until the day before check in, we will provide you with the following per booking:

§  For claims made between October 22, 2009 and December 31, 2009: One $50 Promo Code for a future “Good Buy” Hotel or Flight + Hotel vacation package booking on Travelocity and

§  A refund of the difference between the price you paid through Travelocity and the Qualifying Lower Rate.

 

For the next five weeks a claim with Travelocity provides a $50 future Travelocity “Good Buy” hotel credit. Come January 1, 2010 this Hyatt Regency scenario where three different prices exist will only provide you with 6 cents credit back to your card using Travelocity’s Best Rate Guarantee. Orbitz will have you shut out with their cancellation deadline clause.

Conclusion:

Best Rate Guarantee claims are easy to find if you are interested in cutting 10% (Starwood, IHG), 20% (Hyatt), or even 25% (Marriott) off the lowest rate bookable on the internet.  Or you can get a $50 future stay certificate with Orbitz or Travelocity or a $50 gift cheque from Hilton for a successful Best Rate Guarantee claim.

In these two examples the rate at Orbitz.com was not the lowest, yet the hotel rate does not appear to meet the Orbitz.com terms for a valid Lowest Price Assurance claim for a $50 credit on a future stay.

The main drawback to having a claim approved is the lag time between when a claim is submitted and when the claim is processed. Hotel rates change frequently. I watched rates go from $109 to $249 today for next weekend at the Westin Market Street San Francisco while at the same time the rate for the San Jose Sheraton dropped from $189 to $84 over the same two hour period between 11am and 1pm. And screen shots are not considered evidence for a valid claim.

Travelocity “Good Buy” Best Rate Guarantee

Orbitz Lowest Price Guarantee

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 »

Comments

  1. What if the price listed on the Orbitz website is an advance purchase rate, but the [lower] rate listed on the hotel’s web site (in this case, Hyatt) allows the rez to cancelled up to the day of check-in? Do Orbitz exclusions apply to the Orbit rate, the alternate rate, or to both rates?

  2. I am always hesitant to guess what the Best Rate Guarantee outcome will be. I have not read enough anecdotal evidence to get a feel for how Orbitz is processing claims.

    In my opinion Starwood and Hyatt have the best BRG terms since you can get approval before you actually book a room. All the other sites are a gamble.

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