Let me be clear. I have never booked a room through getaroom.com. I have never signed up to be a member of getaroom.com.
The waters of best rate guarantee claims are getting murkier with the simple descriptor of ‘membership rate’ on GetaRoom.com as I test the parameters of what is acceptable for defining best rate claims.
Today, I had a best rate guarantee claim denied by Starwood Hotels. My claim was based on an $80 rate at Starwood Hotels for Aloft Jacksonville Airport when I can book the same room on getaroom.com for $64.41.
Aloft Jacksonville Airport is $80 on Starwood site.
GetaRoom.com $64.41 rate states it is an “Exclusive Membership Rate”.
Anyone can see and book this rate simply by going to getaroom.com. They say it is an exclusive membership rate, yet there is no barrier to seeing and booking the rate for the general public like me and you.
When I check Jacksonville, Florida on getaroom.com, these rates appear for Aloft Jacksonville Airport. They state “exclusive membership rate”.
Exclusive Membership Rate Superior Room, 1 King Bed $64.41 Non-refundable. The first four rates shown on the website state “Exclusive Membership Rate”.
$72.78 for Aloft Jacksonville Airport on getaroom.com vs. $91 on Starwood site for same room.
The next few GetaRoom.com rates do not have those words “Exclusive Membership Rate”. The booking process is identical for both the member exclusive rate and the general rate.
GetaRoom.com $80.49 Superior Room, 1 King Bed Non-Refundable.
What makes a person a member of Getaroom.com?
Starwood Best Rate Guarantee sent back this response to my BRG claim.
I have reviewed the rates for Aloft Jacksonville Airport for the dates of your claim on our website and found a rate of 80.10 USD which is lower than the rate of 80.26 USD found on Getaroom.com. Since the rate is lower on our website, I am not able to approve your claim.
For one thing, the rate shown on getaroom.com is $80.49 and not $80.26.
The response does not even address the fact that my claim was made against the $64.41 rate on getaroom.com.
Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee T&C states:
The Best Rate Guarantee does not apply to:
Rates requiring membership in a club or other organization, offered pursuant to direct mail or email solicitations, requiring discount codes or coupons, or otherwise not intended for the general public;
My point again is getaroom.com says the $64.41 rate is a member exclusive rate. I’ll state again that I have never booked a room through getaroom.com and I do not see anything about the room rate that prevents any member of the general public from booking the deal. Just because the website states it is a ‘membership exclusive rate’, those words seem to be window dressing and do not seem to have any validity in this case since I am not a member of getaroom.com and I can see and book the $64.41 rate.
In the UK there was a court ruling in 2013 stating online travel agencies can undercut the hotel chain’s room rates when offering lower rates to a fenced group, i.e. a group member. Here is my August 2013 Loyalty Traveler post: UK ruling may impact hotel chain BRG claims (August 9, 2013).
This is the first time I have tested that ruling with a Best Rate Guarantee claim.
Bottom line is I can book Aloft Jacksonville Airport for $64.41 on getaroom.com for the same King bed hotel room Starwood Hotels is charging $80.
Simply tacking on the words “Exclusive Membership Rate” allows getaroom.com to offer a lower rate than Starwood Hotels for the same room and Starwood Hotels gets to deny a best rate guarantee claim.
I wonder how I become a member of getaroom.com?