Starwood Preferred Guest has a good track record for me in validating Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) claims. The Starwood BRG program, along with Hyatt Hotels, has the most consumer-friendly guarantee for the lowest rate on the internet in that these two programs allow guests to file a Best Rate Guarantee claim prior to booking the room on the hotel chain’s website.
Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee procedure.
Claims must be submitted prior to, or within 24 hours after, making a reservation through a Starwood website, and at least 24 hours (48 hours for non-English Starwood websites) before the standard check-in time at the applicable hotel.
All other major hotel chains require the guest to book the room first on the hotel chain’s own site, and then a Best Rate Guarantee claim can be filed within 24 hours against a lower hotel stay rate found at a competing Online Travel Agency site. This makes any BRG claim filed against a prepaid, nonrefundable rate a gamble. If your claim is denied you are stuck with a higher priced prepaid room.
Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee claims must also be made at least 24 hours before hotel check-in time.
24 Hours Best Rate Guarantee Response Time
Starwood Hotels claims it will respond to your Best Rate Guarantee claim within 24 hours. There is usually an auto-reponse email indicating your BRG claim was received. In my experience, the Best Rate Guarantee reply email from a Starwood Best Rate Guarantee customer service agent usually happens in 20 to 23 hours after submitting your online claim with an approval or denial for your claim.
Approved Best Rate Guarantee claims provide the guest a BRG claim reference number. The guest is instructed to complete a reservation at a Starwood Hotels site for the same hotel, room category, and stay used to price your BRG claim. The guest sends the BRG customer service agent the Starwood Hotel Reservation Confirmation Number and the rate is adjusted to the lower rate and then discounted an additional 10%, unless the SPG member chooses to receive the lower rate match and 2,000 bonus points.
10% Starwood Solution vs. 20% Hyatt and 25% Marriott/Carlson BRG Discounts
The Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) offers a 10% discount on a lower rate found with a competing Online Travel Agency (OTA) rate. This is a small discount compared to 20% with Hyatt and 25% with Marriott and Carlson Hotels discounts for validated Best Rate Guarantee claims. This is a significant weakness of Starwood Hotels BRG program when filing a claim on a $1,000+ hotel stay.
Example: You book a room for $1,050 on the hotel chain’s own booking websites. Of course, at Starwood Hotels and Hyatt Hotels you can file a Best Rate Guarantee hotel claim prior to booking the room. Marriott Hotels and Carlson Rezidor Hotels require you book the hotel room first at the $1,050 rate prior to filing a Best Rate Guarantee claim.
A competing Online Travel Agency like hotels.com or Orbitz.com has the same room type for $1,000 for your hotel stay dates. You file at the respective hotel chain and get a BRG claim approved.
Your Best Rate Guarantee discounted room rate:
- Starwood brand hotel (10% discount) = $900
- Hyatt brand hotel (20% discount) = $800
- Marriott brand hotel (25% discount) = $750
- Carlson brand hotel (25% discount) = $750
Your hotel bill on an approved BRG claim for a $1,050 hotel stay booked with the hotel chain and found for $1,000 on an OTA site will ultimately cost you $900 at a Starwood Hotel, but only $750 if you booked a Marriott brand (Courtyard, Renaissance, Fairfield Inn, Marriott) or Carlson Rezidor Hotel brand (Radisson, Country Inn, Park Plaza, Park Inn).
I usually choose to receive 2,000 bonus points for valid BRG claims.
As a king of the one-night hotel stay I tend to take the other Starwood Hotels benefit for an approved Best Rate Guarantee claim to receive 2,000 bonus points. The lower room rate on the competing site is matched and 2,000 bonus points are received for the validated BRG claim.
Receiving 2,000 bonus points for a validated BRG claim means the lower rate on the competing OTA site is matched, but is not discounted an additional $10%.
In the $1,000 BRG example the 10% discount on a Starwood Hotel is $100 cash savings. The 10% discount lowers the hotel stay from $1000 to $900. $100 is a decent hotel rate savings and more valuable than 2,000 points.
More typical for my hotel stays is finding a $120 room rate on the Starwood Hotels site. Quickly searching meta-search engines like Kayak.com or HotelsCombined.com, hotel booking sites that show the rates on dozens of OTA sites, reveals a $110 rate seen on a site like hotels.com.
My choice for this Best Rate Guarantee claim is getting a 10% discount and a $99 rate on the $110 rate for an $11 savings or receive 2,000 bonus points.
Approved BRG claim for Starwood $120 vs. hotels.com $110 rate.
- 10% Discount Rate = $99. Savings = $11 and hotel tax on $11.
- 2,000 Starpoints. Hotel Rate = $110. Save $10 on the published Starwood rate and receive 2,000 Starpoints. I value 2,000 Starpoints at $50 to $70.
An approved best Rate Guarantee claim with Marriott would have reduced the $120 room booked on Marriott.com by 25% down to $82.50.
Hyatt would drop the room rate 20% to $88 for the $120 room.
These are great Best Rate Guarantee discounts.
Ultimately, for me, the 2,000 points are a bargain when paying $27.50 more with Starwood than the $82.50 discounted rate I would pay for a BRG claim with Marriott.
2,000 Starpoints are worth at least $50 in my low value redemptions and up to $120 in some high value redemptions. In summer 2009 when SPG offered one free category 1-6 weekend night for every two stays I managed to score 10,000 bonus points from BRG claims in addition to all the free nights from the promotion.
Hotel Stays Over $200 Favor Best Rate Guarantee Rate Discounts.
High room rate discounts are better value when submitting Best Rate Guarantee claims for higher priced hotel stays over $200.
Bonuses like one free night with IHG and Choice, $100 Travel Card with Best Western, SPG 2,000 bonus points or Hilton $50 travel card/hotel credit are more valuable on one-night and low spend stays under $200.
Starwood is the one BRG program where I would take points over a 10% discount unless the 10% discount saves more than $50.
The Value of Best Rate Guarantee claims without booking first.
I find the Starwood Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) program to be advantageous to most other hotel chains’ programs. Consumers have the ability to file a Starwood BRG claim online prior to booking a room stay on a Starwood Hotels site when a rate discrepancy is found for a lower Online Travel Agency (OTA) rate.
Starwood Hotels and Hyatt Hotels are the only two major hotel chains to allow a Best Rate Guarantee claim without having to book the room first on their websites. To me, this makes Starwood and Hyatt hotel chains the most favorable Best Rate Guarantee program for consumers.
All the other hotel chains and Online Travel Agencies require the hotel guest to book the room first from one of their own hotel websites and then submit a claim within 24 hours showing the lower room rate from a competitor OTA.
Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) claims are denied for a variety of reasons, and in my BRG claim experience, some of these reasons are unreasonable. If the possibility of a BRG claim benefit is one of your primary motivators for booking a hotel room, then you are gambling with most claims. Hotel rates fluctuate and there is a significant probability that the hotel rate will have changed in the 24 to 100 hours you wait for a BRG reply from the hotel chain agent. When you are hit with a Best Rate Guarantee denial you might decide the hotel stay is not the deal you were looking for.
No problem if you booked a stay with a no penalty cancellation. You can cancel the reservation. You tried for a Best Rate Guarantee bonus and lost.
Big problem if you booked a prepaid, nonrefundable rate as your Best Rate Guarantee claim. You are stuck with having paid a higher rate for the same room you could have booked for less from the Online Travel Agency.
After this happens once or twice you might sour on Best Rate Guarantee programs.
Starwood Hotels low-risk Best Rate Guarantee.
Starwood Hotels has a low-risk Best Rate Guarantee program. You can search rates on Starwood sites and OTA sites and file a claim when you see a discrepancy for the same room.
You can get a 10% discount on the lower competing rate when booking a high priced Starwood hotel stay or take 2,000 bonus points on a cheap one-night Best Rate Guarantee Starwood hotel stay. The 2,000 points should be worth at least $50 on a future hotel stay.
Related Loyalty Traveler posts:
Loyalty Traveler post link: http://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2012/07/13/spg-best-rate-guarantee-for-2000-points-or-10-off/
Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.