Kayak.com is not your best friend for hotel rates.
I haven’t gone through my OTA rant in a few months now. OTA is Online Travel Agency.
Expedia, Travelocity, and Orbitz are the dominant players in travel searches for hotels. The value of an OTA is the ability to get a quick snapshot of prices in a city and then quickly book your hotel stay. Recently all the OTAs have had sales claiming 20%, 40%, even 50% off room rates.
Kayak.com is on a lot of travelers “Favorite” list for hotel rate searches. I use Kayak to get an idea of the prevailing hotel rates for an area when I start planning travel. Kayak.com is a meta-search engine and not an OTA.
Kayak.com does not actually sell hotel rooms. A meta-search engine quickly goes through the hotel rates or airfares for a variety of OTAs and pulls up the prices. Kayak.com takes you to an OTA like Expedia or Orbitz for booking your hotel room or flight once you make a specific selection among the hotel or airline search returns.
Kayak.com is very useful for finding low airfares, but much less useful for hotel rates.
The problem with Kayak.com and OTAs in general is the inability to locate special offer rates or group rates commonly available like AAA and senior group discounts.
Renaissance Eden Roc, Miami Beach – A Tale of Two Travelers
Ellen is a busy executive, but a do it yourself travel planner. She gets a thrill from looking at websites and picturing herself in the perfect bathing suit, on the perfect beach, in perfect weather, at a great hotel, at the best price.
Ellen goes to Kayak.com and finds the Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach listed at $330.
Kayak.com shows Eden Roc Renaissance, Miami Beach for $330
A pop-up window search for Travelocity.com shows $369 for this Miami Beach, Florida hotel.
Travelocity hotel rate for Eden Roc, Miami Beach $369
Based on Renaissance Eden Roc’s TripAdvisor ranking of #23 of 207 Miami area hotels and its 4-star rating, Ellen believes the $369 rate pulled up on Travelocity is a fair market rate for this hotel and compared to other hotel rates on Miami Beach like the Fontainebleau.
TripAdvisor Rating for Eden Roc, Miami Beach, #23 of 206 Hotels
Kayak.com search shows $330 per night through gtahotels.com website. This may be a good way to save $78 and tax for the two night stay.
Ellen is a savvy traveler and she knows Marriott.com should have the same $330 rate. She will earn Marriott Rewards points by booking through the Marriott website.
She heads over to Marriott.com and rechecks the rate for Eden Roc, Miami Beach, January 11-13 for two nights. The rate shows as $369 on Marriott.com for a 14-day advance reservation rate that allows a no penalty cancellation up to 3 days before arrival. A reservation canceled within three days forfeits one night’s room charges of $416.97. She doesn’t see a $330 rate on Marriott.com. Perhaps this is a potential “Best Rate Guarantee” claim with Marriott.
Marriott.com rate for Renaissance Eden Roc, Miami Beach is $369
Always Check Hotel Rate Rules for the fine print on cancellation.
From the Marriott Website for this $369 rate:
Holding Your Reservation
Canceling Your Reservation
Modifying Your Reservation
Ellen knows AAA usually brings the rate down even more and repeats the rate search on Marriott.com with the AAA box checked.
Marriott.com AAA rate for Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel, Miami is $386
Oddly enough, the AAA rate is actually more than the 14-day advance reservation rate. Reading the rate rules, Ellen sees there is no advantage or benefit to the more expensive AAA rate. The AAA rate also allows a cancellation up to 3 days before arrival date.
Ellen books the two night stay at the Eden Roc Renaissance Resort for $833.94 through the Marriott website because the points and stay credit make the higher price a better value for her hotel lifestyle than the $39 + tax per night she would have saved through her Kayak.com search using gtahotels.com for her booking. Ellen will earn at least 7,380 Marriott Rewards points for her two night stay at $369/night.
Marriott.com Total rate for Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida
January 11-13, 2009 $833.94
Hotel Special Offers are Where the Best Deals are Found
Loyalty Traveler booked the Eden Roc Renaissance Resort for the same room type, on the same dates, on the same Marriott.com website and paid $291.54 for his two night stay. And Loyalty Traveler will earn a $100 hotel credit for his next stay at the Eden Roc Resort.
Marriott.com $129 Special Offer Rate for Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel, Miami Beach, FL
Why is there a $542.40 difference in the Marriott.com room rates?
The Loyalty Traveler took the time to look through 12 pages of Marriott Rewards special offers found here. An offer on page 9 for the Eden Roc Renaissance Hotel showed a $129 special rate valid through January 31, 2009 for Marriott Rewards members:
Marriott Rewards Members’ Sneak Peek of the Bold New Eden Roc
Resort and Spa!!
Includes a great introductory rate, welcome amenity, and a $100
Resort Credit to be used on a return stay in 2009.
Resort Credit cannot be used on current stay*
Resort Credit cannot be applied to room and tax*
Based on Availability*
Restrictions may apply*
Marriott.com Special Offer Rate of $129 for Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel, Miami Beach
Special Offer Rate of $129 even includes a $100 credit towards a future Eden Roc stay.
And remember to check the fare rules:
Canceling Your Reservation
The fare rules for the special offer rate of $129 are the same cancellation rules as the higher $369 rate.
Hotel Corporations are in the business of making money.
Great deals are available on the hotel’s websites, however, a standard search on the corporate-branded websites does not automatically return the lowest available rates for your stay. You must specifically search special rates like AAA, Senior, and Promotional rates.
The code is M11 for the $129 special offer for the Renaissance Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach. Marriott.com automatically uses the M11 code if you click through the rate search using the special offers page link.
Keep in mind when planning your hotel travel that Kayak.com and OTAs are useful tools, but the best discounts for your hotel stay are often hotel special rates and offers unlikely to be found by these sites. Even using the hotel-branded websites like Marriott.com will often keep these low rates hidden when searching hotel rates.
There are great hotel deals all the time. Knowing where and how to find them is the challenge.
If You’re Going to San Francisco,
Be Sure to Where Some Flowers in Your Hair,
And also check for the $134 special offer rate for the Renaissance Stanford Court on Nob Hill: