InterContinental Hotels Group introduced a new Best Price Guarantee (BRG) policy this week offering guests the first night free when a lower rate for the same hotel, same room type, same restrictions for same dates is found on a third party online travel agency site. Additional nights will match the lower price submitted for approved claims.
What is a Valid Best Price Guarantee Claim?
- You must make a reservation on an IHG website and have a valid confirmation number.
- You must have booked a Best Available Rate. Group rates like AAA, senior rates, and corporate rates do not qualify for BRG claims.
- You must book the lowest price among the Best Available rates for the room type.
- You must find a lower room rate on a competing non-IHG brand website within 24 hours for the same hotel, room type, same dates, same length of stay and same number of guests that is publicly available, viewable and bookable.
- Competing website must have same reservation restrictions for nonrefundable or refundable room.
The IHG Best Price Guarantee FAQ actually uses the example that if you find a refundable rate on a competing website that is lower than the nonrefundable rate you purchased from the IHG site, the claim is not valid.
That makes no sense to a consumer.
You book a more restrictive rate through IHG and then find a lower rate on a competing website with more flexible cancellation terms and you do not have a valid BRG claim. You have no recourse since you lose the entire prepaid deposit with IHG if you cancel a nonrefundable room.
IHG Best Price Guarantee is better than before when it offered 10% off the lower rate of a competing website, but still pales compared to Starwood and Hyatt BRG policies.
Up a Creek with Kayak.com and no paddle to freely navigate Hotel Brands filters
I wanted to test the new IHG policy with a few Kayak.com searches in hopes of locating a potential BRG claim only to learn that Kayak.com has changed their search filters recently. The changes to Kayak.com eliminates the ability to freely filter hotels in a location by hotel brand. I wrote a lament about this feature disappearing last year in my April 1, 2010 blog post “Steering to Starwood Hotels on Kayak.com without a Paddle“. Turned out that was a temporary change for Kayak.com.
Now it looks to me like Kayak.com has changed its hotel brand filtering to be some type of advertising revenue service since there is an odd and severely limited selection of hotel brands shown when attempting to filter the hotels by hotel brand.
Finding IHG rates on competing websites to compare with rates on IHG’s own websites is no longer a simple task with Kayak.com. Over the summer I easily located Best Rate Guarantee claims with Starwood Hotels using Kayak.com to check rates for locations I needed hotels. When I checked Kayak.com for IHG brand rates in San Francisco I now see a filter limited to this:
This is such a limited selection of the 300+ hotels in San Francisco shown here that I assume these are paid placements. There is no way I see now to filter these hotels to show only IHG brands when searching Kayak.com.
This is what Kayak.com used to provide which made it easy to check rates and compare to the hotel brand websites.
My purpose for discussing the Kayak.com filter changes is the fact that a Best Rate Guarantee policy only works when you can find a lower rate on a competing site within 24 hours and Kayak.com was a great site for locating lower rates quickly by filtering hotels to just the one brand of interest.
The screenshot above shows hotels in a Kayak.com Denver search filtered to show only Hyatt and Starwood. These happen to be the two hotel chains that allow submission of a Best Rate Guarantee claim before actually booking a hotel room. That is why I like the BRG policies of these two hotel chains.
Hyatt BRG FAQ. 20% off lower rate.
Starwood BRG FAQ. 10% off lower rate or 2,000 Starpoints.
Marriott BRG. Marriott gives 25% off lower rate.
Hilton BRG. Hilton matches lower rate and gives $50 gift card or $50 credit.
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.
Personally I don’t spend much time looking at room rates in the 24 hours after I have booked my room.
Orbitz.com still offers the ability to filter by hotel brand and that will be my preferred search site until I locate another travel search engine to filter by hotel chain like Starwood, Marriott or IHG. I only use third party sites to compare rates to branded websites. I make all my reservations on the brand website for the loyalty benefits and almost always the lowest rate. If the hotel brand website is not the lowest rate, then file a Best Rate Guarantee claim.
I don’t think I will find much use in the IHG Best Price Guarantee policy changes.
Question for readers: What other travel websites allow a hotel search to be filtered by hotel chain?