Posted by Ric Garrido

FlyerTalk has a 56-page thread on Hilton’s Best Rate Guarantee with over 800 posts covering 7.5 years since 2003. Over 80 posts from the past 12 months indicate there have only been a couple of posted successful Best Rate Guarantee claims approved by Hilton Worldwide and even these often required escalating the claim to Hilton supervisory levels after initial denials of claims. All in all, it appears the chance you will have a successful BRG claim with Hilton is about the same probability you will stay at an Embassy Suites with no children on the premises.

Hilton Worldwide has one of the most restrictive Best Rate Guarantee policies of the major hotel chains.

  • First you must book a hotel room through Hilton channels.
  • Then, you must find a lower rate within 24-hours of your Hilton booking.
  • The terms must be identical and anecdotal evidence indicates Hilton will deny a claim based on some rather minute differences between the Hilton reservation and the third party room description or fees.
  • Approved claims will match lower rate and Hilton will give you a $50 American Express gift cheque for hotels in U.S., Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Your bill will be adjusted by US$50 for approved claims at hotels in other regions.

Anecdotal evidence indicates Hilton BRG claims are denied for a variety of factors due to some discrepancy between different wording used on third party sites to describe the basic room category for the hotel, the room bed size, different check-in times posted, third party website booking fees and taxes combined and breakfast rates on third party sites. 

The general consensus on FlyerTalk is even taking the time to submit a Best Rate Guarantee with Hilton is a waste of time. Advice FlyerTalkers frequently give to Hilton HHonors members is just book the lower rate on the third party site and forget the loyalty benefits, since you will unlikely ever get a rate match and even if you manage to get a rate match, the likelihood of getting the $50 American Express voucher is low without follow-up at higher management levels.

Another common piece of advice is book with Marriott.

Marriott’s Look No Further threadon FlyerTalk has 48 pages with 719 posts since April 2006. Since the beginning of 2010 (page 35 of the FlyerTalk thread), there are over 200 posts in the Marriott Look No Further thread and almost all of the posts report  an approved Best Rate Guarantee claim for a Marriott brand hotel.

Marriott Look No Further Best Rate Guarantee Policy

  • Guest must first book room on Marriott site.
  • Must file claim within 24 hours for lower rate found on third party site.
  • Approved claims will discount lower rate by an additional 25%.

 

Starwood Hotels and Hyatt Hotels actually allow the guest to file a Best Rate Guarantee claim prior to making a confirmed reservation for the hotel. Starwood Hotels Best Rate policyoffers 10% off lower rate or match the lower rate and gives 2,000 bonus Starpoints for an approved Best Rate claim. I generally take the 2,000 points if the 10% savings off the lower rate is less than $50.

There are 45 pages with 671 posts since January 2008 in the FlyerTalk Starwood Best Rate Guarantee thread. Denied claims tend to be related to specific third party websites. Most seemingly eligible claims appear to be approved.

In my experience, I find Starwood Hotels to be fairly straightforward with their approval of Best Rate Guarantee claims. I actually book between 25% and 50% of my Starwood Hotels using BRG claims and earn an additional 2,000 points per stay for most of these bookings. In summer 2009 when Starwood Preferred Guest offered a free night after two stays, I completed 16 stays and half of those stays earned a 2,000 points Best Rate Guarantee claim bonus. And SPG was giving out Delta/Northwest miles too. That was a great year for hotel travel.

Now in 2011 we really need the Best Rate Guarantee backup as many hotels are skyrocketing rates.

Hyatt Hotels, on the other hand, reminds me a bit of the Hilton policy. Getting a Hyatt BRG claim approved for 20% lower than the third party rate  is more difficult in my experience than with Starwood Hotels. A check of FlyerTalk Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee thread shows several successful Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee claims over the past year, however, there are only 37 posts in the three page thread since June 2009.

Priority Club is a Best Rate Guarantee program that I have little knowledge of its practical use. I couldn’t find the FlyerTalk thread covering IHG Best Rate Guarantee anecdotes.

The IHG Lowest Room Rate webpage does not instill much faith in me for the program. This is why.

Here is a piece describing how their Best Rate Guarantee works:

The following is from IHG Lowest Room Rate webpage.

Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee Claim Questions & Answers:

Did you make a reservation on an IHG Web site?
IHG’s portfolio consists of the most recognized and respected hotel brands in the world, including InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn® Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express® Hotels, Hotel Indigo® Hotels, Staybridge Suites® Hotels and Candlewood Suites® Hotels. With full-service Web sites in eleven languages to support worldwide operations, we feature over 4,500 hotels in nearly 100 countries and territories. A reservation must be made directly on an IHG Web site to qualify for the Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee, and you must have a valid reservation confirmation number.

Did you use the Best Available Rate search?
When you search for a room on an IHG Web site and specify “Best Available” as your rate preference, you will be presented with a variety of rate types (e.g. Best Flexible, Advance Purchase). These are the best hotel room rates available currently that meet your search criteria.

Did you choose the lowest rate from the Best Available Rate search results for your reservation?
A guest must book the lowest available hotel room rate through the Best Available rate search – for the type of accommodations sought – in order to qualify for the Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee.

Did you find a lower rate on a “competing Web site” within 24 hours of your IHG reservation?
A competing Web site is a Web site that sells a hotel room from the IHG Family of Brands (InterContinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn® Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express® Hotels, Hotel Indigo® Hotels, Staybridge Suites® Hotels and Candlewood Suites® Hotels). It is not another hotel brand Web site.

Is that lower rate for the same type of accommodations?
Same type of accommodations includes the same hotel, the same type of room(s), same dates and length of stay, and same number of guests.

“Example of a resolution to a valid Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee claim:

A guest books a one night’s stay at the lowest available rate through the Best Available Rate search for a hotel in Atlanta, GA, (USA) on an IHG branded site for a rate of $200.00.

Within 24 hours, that same guest finds a rate of $190.00 on a competing Web site for the same hotel, same night and same room type (same number and type of bed(s)).

The guest contacts IHG to claim the Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee either by phone or by filling out the online form.

Once the Guest Relations team confirms that the Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee claim filed is valid, they will modify the guest’s room rate to $181.00 to uphold IHG’s Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee policy! That’s 10% better than the lower hotel rate reported.” 

Loyalty Traveler Analysis of IHG methodology:

  • IHG website = $200
  • Competing third party online website = $190
  • IHG will modify the guest’s room rate to $181

InterContinental Hotels Group Lowest Room Rate Guarantee Example is incorrect math.

The example as shown is $9 off of $190 room rate. That is not a 10% modification of the lower rate. IHG is showing a discount of less than 5% below the lower third party rate.

The modified room rate should be $171 to be 10% lower than $190. ($190 x 0.90 = $171)

Readers, please share your experiences of claiming Best Rate Guarantees. Specifically people who have made claims in different programs can share some comparisons of the experience across hotel chains.

What are your good and bad stories about Best Rate Guarantee claims?

Loyalty Traveler Best Rate Guarantee Hotel Report Card

Starwood Hotels = A (Guest may file claim before booking room and easy claims process)

Marriott Hotels = B (Guest must book room first with Marriott, file claim. Easy validation process.)

Hyatt Hotels = C  (Guest may file claim before booking room, but not so easy validation process.)

InterContinental Hotels Group = no grade (need more data to assess program)

Hilton Hotels = F  (Guest must book room first with Hilton, file claim within 24 hours and seemingly valid claims denied for variety of reasons.)

9 Responses

  1. Hi Ric,

    I can confirm the IHG Lowest Internet Rate Guarantee program works. Even for rates which are 35% lower. Example: Wanted to book the Crowne Plaza Le Palace Brussels for March 10. IHG rate was around 150 euro. Found the same room at Skoosh.com for 100 euro. Booked the 150 euro rate at IHG, submitted Lowest Rate claim, got a reply from IHG a few hours later they had accepted my claim and offered me the room for 90 euro! (10% extra discount – see IHG conditions) That’s a 40% lower rate!

    Greetings from the IC Bucharest Club lounge. :)

  2. Good to hear your IHG Best Rate Guarantee agent knew how to calculate a 10% discount. I suppose it is easier to correctly figure out 10% off when the rate is 100 euro. :)

  3. I used IHG BRG once. It was done without a proble. It just took them few days to contact hotel to actually change the rate.

  4. I’d give Best Western’s BRG an F as well, just fyi, based on my valid claim being denied, and stories of others…

  5. Ric,
    Thanks to an old post of yours I found while searching for hotels in San Francisco, I decided to give Hyatt BRG a try. It was a quick call and no problem, maybe beginner’s luck!
    I wanted to thank you for the tip, but as it was an old post I wasn’t sure you would read it, so now I have a chance: Thank you!

  6. Good news to hear about Hyatt BRG. I like all three of their San Francisco properties.

    I have not even seen a Hyatt BRG this year. Not enough hotel travel for me yet in 2011. 16 nights so far and none in San Francisco.

  7. Ric,
    Data point for your next BRG report card:

    Hyatt’s BRG didn’t work for me today, trying for a booking at Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa for Mon, Jul 4, 2011 – Wed, Jul 6, 2011. Travelocity Flexible Dates best rate for the entire month of July is $329. The Hyatt site shows the best rate is $342 but a Hyatt rep told me that since it’s not the same room (Garden vs. Mountain view) the BRG doesn’t apply.

  8. […] IHG, Marriott, Hilton and most other hotel chains offer a Best Rate Guarantee, but only after you have booked the room through the hotel’s own websites and then find a lower rate on a competing website and submit your claim within 24 hours of booking the room. Earlier this year I analyzed the different BRG policies from major hotel chains in this post. […]

  9. IHG’s is VERY tricky. You need to be sure your claim is valid or else you risk being stuck with it.

    I agree with the other reviews re all the other programs.

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