Posted by Ric Garrido

Hotel rate sales happen all the time. The issue for the consumer is whether the promotional rate available today is truly a low rate for the hotel. My experience analyzing hotel rate promotions shows that promotional rates are often the lowest available rate for a specific hotel on that day, but often not the lowest rate that was available during the two weeks prior to the sale promotion.

Here are three sales happening right now with Accor Hotels, Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels.

Hilton Any Weekend, Anywhere 2012-2013 sale. Save up to 40%.

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Accor Hotels Super Sale. Rooms with up to 50% off.

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Starwood CyberMonday Sale. Save up to 25%.

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Rates of Confusion

Are 25% off rates available today with Starwood Hotels less than the published rates from two weeks ago? The promotional sale rate today might be the lowest rate shown today, but you probably do not know what published rates were last week for the same hotel stay and dates.

The basic problem with hotel rate promotional discounts is the consumer probably does not know the trending average rates for a specific hotel, unless you have been following hotel rates for a specific destination.

How do you tell a real deal from marketing hype? 

This is a difficult task since hotels, just like airlines, constantly adjust rates to increase sales and maximize revenue. Rates fluctuate in many travel markets by a factor of two or three times. This means the Marriott Hotel, AnyCity, USA that sold for $140 a night last week might be $105 this holiday Thanksgiving week and up to $220 a night next week.

Unless you follow a market for hotel rates and airfare, then you are left guessing at where the low rate price floor for a specific hotel is located?

This makes it difficult to know when a sale is a good deal. All you can do is compare the deal to your other hotel options at the time of booking.

Loyalty Traveler Analysis of San Francisco Starwood Hotel rates

I have been tracking San Francisco Bay area Starwood Hotel rates for the past month. This allows me to compare the Starwood CyberMonday sale rates available for stays as of today to published hotel rates over the past few weeks.

My typical hotel booking pattern is last minute. This is due to many years watching hotel rates and more often than not hotel rates drop to their lowest levels in the two weeks before a stay.

Hotel rates often drop to near low rates of the year in San Francisco during Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks. I need a few cheap hotel nights to qualify for SPG Platinum elite in 2013 with 25 hotel stays in 2012.

Starwood Hotels in San Francisco Rate Comparison for past four weeks.

Westin St. Francis rates for Thursday November 22, 2012.

  • $152 AAA rate found October 26, 2012.
  • $152 AAA rate found November 16, 2012.
  • $152 CyberMonday rate November 21, 2012.

 

Westin St. Francis rates for Friday November 23, 2012.

  • $152 AAA rate found October 26, 2012.
  • $189 prepaid, nonrefundable rate found November 16, 2012.
  • $152 CyberMonday rate found November 21, 2012.
  • $205 AAA breakfast package rate found Nov 21, 2012. Only the package rate is available now.

W Hotel San Francisco rates for Friday November 23, 2012.

  • $169 AAA rate found October 26, 2012.
  • $167 AAA rate found November 16, 2012.
  • $189 CyberMonday rate found November 21, 2012.

Westin Market Street San Francisco rates for Friday November 23, 2012.

    • $191 AAA rate found October 26, 2012.
    • $154 prepaid, nonrefundable rate found November 16, 2012.
    • $143 CyberMonday rate found November 21, 2012.
    • Note: This hotel was available for $119 through several online travel agencies most of Thanksgiving week and eligible for Starwood Best Rate Guarantee claim at $107 per night after 10% discount.

 

Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco rates for Friday November 23, 2012

  • $143 AAA rate found October 26, 2012.
  • $143 AAA rate found November 16, 2012.
  • $199 CyberMonday rate found November 21, 2012.
  • $143 AAA rate found November 21, 2012.

St. Regis San Francisco rates for Friday, November 23, 2012.

  • $287 AAA rate found October 26, 2012.
  • $287 AAA rate found November 16, 2012.
  • $369 CyberMonday rate found November 21, 2012.
  • $377 AAA rate found November 21, 2012.

The rates at St. Regis were $82 per night less for the past month with the AAA rate compared to the current CyberMonday rate. The AAA rate increased $90 per night after the CyberMonday sale launched.

Conclusion

Hotel promotional sales are marketing gimmicks. The worst part of these sales are the common feature of making the promotional rates prepaid and nonrefundable.

Sometimes hotel sales are authentically discount rates. Sometimes the sale rates are hype and not really a discount at all compared to the rates available in the weeks prior to the sale.

St. Regis San Francisco is an example of a hotel that offered much lower rates prior to the current Starwood CyberMonday sale.

Two hotels in the San Francisco area actually do have the lowest rates I have seen for Thanksgiving week over the past month with this Starwood CyberMonday sale.

Aloft San Francisco Airport dropped from $120 a month ago to $105 last week to $79 with the CyberMonday sale.

Le Meridien San Francisco dropped from $220 last month to $159 last week to $149 with CyberMonday sale. The odd thing though is this hotel was available much of the past month as a Best Rate Guarantee hotel for $149 or $159 during Thanksgiving week and the 10% rate discount would have made this hotel lower priced than the Starwood CyberMonday sale.

Bottom line: Buyer Beware when it comes to hotel promotional sales.

14 Responses

  1. Ric, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. Particularly enjoyed this article and seeing you call it like it is. Thanks.

  2. This is an enlightening analysis. I always appreciate your posts. Thank you Ric!

  3. quick data point.

    i was searching for a hotel room for NYE in vancouver bc. i had been looking at the sheraton wall center, which before the CM sale was announce was running at $174. with the sale this dropped to $119 yesterday, which i promptly booked.

    however, i looked back today and the price on the spg site (where i booked) is now $199.

    takeaway: probably goes without saying that there are probably a limited amount of rooms available at the discount rates, even though the sale is still live.

  4. When every blog posts about it (like Club Carlson, or Wyndham), then it’s a real sale ;-p

    or when Loyalty Traveler posts it

  5. Yeah, thanks for this post. I must be real naive…when a hotel said “sale”…I thought it was time to hit the book button.

  6. [...] more: How can you recognize a real hotel sale? – Loyalty Traveler ← Secrets Resorts Puerto Vallarta, Mexico Hotel Review | Nancy D Brown Family Vacation [...]

  7. A brief check of Hilton’s sale rates also don’t compare favorably to other well known discounted rates, considering they are non-refundable.

  8. Yeah, I’ve been sucked in to the hotel sale rates. Can you tell us how to get the lowest rates every day?

  9. great analysis. thanks!

  10. Good one but it looks like so complicated…

  11. [...] Loyalty Traveler has a great post on how to recognize a real hotel sale [...]

  12. @mike – I’d be making far more income as a blogger if I could tell consumers how to get the lowest hotel rates everyday.

    There are thousands of hotel revenue managers using complicated math to prevent consumers from getting the lowest rate everyday.

  13. The Accor Hotels sale was a very good deal for me:

    – I got the Ibis Sheung Wan for $67 USD all-in, which is an insanely good price for a 3* hotel on Hong Kong Island.
    – The Pullman King Power was $61 USD all-in, which is a very good price for a 5* business hotel in Bangkok (quite convenient to the airport rail link at Phaya Thai and BTS to explore).

    That being said, yeah, you could see that Accor bumped some of the prices up for this “sale”. The King Power Hotel is $~95 all-in for my dates.

    Comment by eponymous coward on November 24th, 2012 at 5:55 pm
  14. Pullman Hotel for under $100 sounds like a cheap luxury stay.

    Bangkok was an interesting experience on my one trip when I stayed ten days in 2004. Unfortunately it is one of the few places I have been that I have no desire to return.

    There is just too much sex tourism in that city that angers me and keeps me from wanting to return.

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