My last paid hotel night with IHG was at the Holiday Inn Express Tehachapi, California on my way to Las Vegas. It was a free night through the IHG Best Price Guarantee that I paid for with a $135 charge to my Diners Club card.
I paid my credit card charge of $135 two weeks ago. Last night I deposited a $135 reimbursement check from IHG for the hotel stay on the last Saturday night in October.
This actually worked out very well since my paid stay earned nearly 16,000 points and I used those 16,000 points to redeem four PointBreaks hotel nights at the Crowne Plaza in Charlotte, North Carolina last month for 20,000 points.
IHG has one of the Best Rate Guarantee policies among all the major hotel chains.
Best Price Guarantee
We’re so sure the best prices for our hotels are found on our websites that we were the first to offer the most powerful price guarantee ever by a global travel company. Find a lower price elsewhere and your first night is free. That’s our Best Price Guarantee and just one of many benefits you get with the Book With Us Advantage.
My next free night with IHG Best Price Guarantee
Tomorrow night I will be staying at a Holiday Inn on another free night with IHG. There is still uncertainty whether this will be a no charge stay or whether I will need to pay the room rate and tax and wait a month for reimbursement.
Honestly, I am hoping the process works out similarly to last time and I pay the rate, earn IHG Rewards Club points and The Big Win credit for bonus points, then get my money back from IHG in a check sometime around February.
What a feat it will be if I complete half my 2013 Big Win tasks and earn 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points, ultimately without spending any money.
The IHG Best Price Guarantee Process
I am heading to San Diego this week for a family gathering before Christmas. This is a 500 mile drive one-way from Monterey. I have been checking hotel rates frequently in a variety of cities along the California coast from Pismo Beach to San Diego. I plan to drive leisurely and sightsee.
IHG website showed $119 Best Flexible Rate for this Holiday Inn along my route. (As a general rule, I do not broadcast hotels for Best Rate Guarantee claims).
Kayak.com is a convenient meta-search engine for checking rates from a variety of online travel agencies. Kayak.com will often show rates from 11 OTA sites and the hotel brand site rate.
Rate discrepancies are easy to find between the brand site and the OTA site.
My focus this trip is finding rate discrepancies with IHG and Marriott since these are the best promotion offers currently in my opinion.
I had successful Best Rate Guarantee discounts with both chains for hotel stays this next week.
Travelocity showed a rate of $79.20 for the same room at the same Holiday Inn hotel.
Terms, including cancellation policies, are same for Travelocity $79 rate and IHG $119 rate.
This was a Best Price Guarantee claim waiting to be made.
1. Book the room at IHG website.
IHG Best Price Guarantee requires the guest to book the room on an IHG website and then submit a Best Price Guarantee online claim form within 24 hours of making the IHG reservation.
4. Did you find a lower room price and a total room cost that are both less than the room price and the total room cost for the IHG hotel 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. Rooms on the competing Web site must be publicly available, viewable and bookable on the Internet at the time of verification.
I understand the ‘within 24-hours’ rule is necessary since hotel rates are dynamic. There is a good chance the rate you book will drop before your hotel stay. Without the 24-hour rule, guests would be filing Best Rate Guarantee claims all the time after making their hotel reservations.
One of the odd aspects of IHG Best Price Guarantee that differs from all the other major chains is IHG does not state a policy for the timeline to respond to a Best Price Guarantee claim submission.
Most hotel chains state the Bet Rate Guarantee claim will be processed within 24 hours. A Marriott agent told me on a former Best Rate Guarantee claim that if the Look No Further claim (Marriott’s BRG name) is not processed in 24 hours of claim submission, then the claim is approved by default.
I submitted my IHG Best Price Guarantee minutes after making my reservation on Tuesday afternoon and it was only this morning, 40 hours after submitting my claim, that the Best Price Guarantee claim was approved for a free hotel night. That is a long wait. The time to cancel the IHG reservation without penalty was less than 12 hours away before the reservation became nonrefundable.
The slow processing of IHG claims along with no policy statement in the Best Price Guarantee terms for submitting a claim prior to the hotel stay date makes IHG’s Best Price Guarantee loosely defined for timelines. Other major hotel chains have defined timelines.
For example, Marriott Look No Further Best Rate terms state:
- Your claim must also be submitted no later than 24 hours before your check-in time.
- Marriott will verify the Comparison Rate within 24 hours of receiving your claim and notify you of the results. Because the claim must be processed before check-in, you must submit your claim at least 24 hours prior to check-in.
IHG allows last minute Best Price Guarantee claims, however, you might not get an approved claim prior to actually arriving at the hotel if you have a same day or next day arrival.
In my case, this was why I had to pay the room rate for my October stay when the claim was approved on the same day I was scheduled to check-in at the Holiday Inn Express hotel. It was over a month after my paid stay before IHG cut a reimbursement check for the free night stay.
(Theoretically) How a nonrefundable IHG hotel night could become a free night
Hotel Indigo San Diego was $91 when I checked Wednesday morning and I considered booking that rate. The rate was prepaid and nonrefundable which is the reason I did not book the rate. The rate dropped to $80 last night.
Seems to me like I would have had an eligible Best Price Guarantee if I had booked the $91 rate yesterday morning and then filed a claim last night after the rate dropped to $80.
Hotel Indigo $91 prepaid, nonrefundable rate on Wednesday morning.
Hotel Indigo $80 rate appeared Wednesday night.
Assume I had booked the $91 rate yesterday, then after the rate change, all the OTA sites showed $89. Seems like this would have been a free night if the timing was right to submit the Best Price Guarantee claim within 24 hours of the IHG website reservation.
Interestingly, Kayak shows the OTA sites did not drop their rates from $91 to $80. The OTA sites all show their rates at $89.
Kayak shows Hotel Indigo brand site with $80 rate and most OTA sites with $89 rate for same room and prepaid, nonrefundable terms.
In theory though, this still looks like it could have been a Best Price Guarantee claim if I booked Hotel Indigo yesterday morning for $91 and the OTA rate changed to $89 last night.
Here is IHG Best Price Guarantee Price Matching terms:
6. c. Matching Prices – Price Variance. The nightly room price and the nightly total room cost (for one night stays) or the average nightly room price and the average nightly total room cost (for multi-night stays) must each be lower than the IHG room price and the IHG total room cost, respectively, by at least 1% or $1 USD (or the equivalent in the hotel’s currency) (whichever is higher). Coupons or vouchers may not be utilized to lower published room prices for the purposes of making a claim. The Guarantee does not include extra fees such as extra person charges, except as stated in paragraph 6.d.
In the USA, where there are no currency exchange issues for terms, the OTA rate must both be:
- Lower room rate (IHG = $91 yesterday morning; Expedia = $89 last night).
- Total room cost after taxes and fees must be lower on OTA ($100.18) than IHG site ($102.43 nonrefundable rate booked).
- Rate must be lower by at least $1.00 or 1%, whichever is greater.
IHG Best Price Guarantee claim:
$102.43 Hotel Indigo IHG confirmed reservation rate before rate dropped to $80.
$100.18 Hotel Indigo rate on Expedia within 24 hours of booking $91 rate.
Expedia is $2.25 less than IHG booked rate of $102.43 for greater than 1% difference. $89 Expedia rate is $2 less than $91 IHG rate for Hotel Indigo.
The fact that IHG dropped its rate to $80 should not be an issue since the IHG rate booked was $91 at the time of the confirmed reservation.
This looks to me like a prepaid, nonrefundable rate that could have turned into a free night.
As a general rule I do not book prepaid, nonrefundable rates so this analysis is simply an exercise in possibilities.
One final point about IHG Best Price Guarantee. An approved claim for a free night means no other claims for a free night can be made for an IHG hotel within 50 miles within a seven-day period. This means that I can’t get the same Holiday Inn hotel for free on my trip home.
But I can still get one free night at an IHG hotel in San Diego. There was one hotel where I could have made a claim, but it would have required going to the eastern side of San Diego. I prefer staying at the beach on Coronado Island.
Free hotel nights are not always the best deal around.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.