When a Sale Is Not a Bargain: Analysis of Starwood Hotels Better Tomorrows Promotion – One Month Later

I think it was the Starwood Hotels Better Tomorrows promotion launched early last month that got me thinking about a west coast drive.  Now, back from Vancouver, Canada and my two week business holiday, I reread my post from October 13 about the Starwood Hotels 50% off the 2nd Night Sale, “Better Tomorrows”.

As often happens when I start research on a topic the real story surfaces from the data I find. 

Analysis of Better Tomorrows Promotion – One Month Later

The real story concerns the real value of a hotel room rates sale with restrictive nonrefundable conditions for the consumer.  The concept of Starwood’s 50% off 2nd night sale, which I like to call a 25% off sale since the total discount is 25% off the regular rate on a two-night stay, is designed to make the consumer feel the deal is so good for the hotel reservation that there will be no better time to book the hotel stay at a lower rate.  The great rate is offset by restrictive nonrefundable, no changes or cancellation rules for the special offer.

I searched and published hotel rates on October 13, 2008 in this Loyalty Traveler blog  for three hotels for a stay on this coming weekend Friday-Saturday, November 21-23 using the “Better Tomorrows” sale rate:

·         Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre British Columbia, Canada;

·         W Hotel San Francisco, and

·         Westin Portland, Oregon

My finding today is all three hotels have lower total rates if booked today through regular internet searches than what I would have paid for two nights using the Better Tomorrows sale rate last month.

The Better Tomorrows rates based on a nonrefundable, no cancellation or changes special offer rate if booked last month would have cost significantly more (16% higher) when looking at the same three hotels for the same dates if booked today for this weekend and a Friday arrival. 

Two night stay for Friday-Saturday, November 21-23, 2008


Rates shown are base rates without taxes or fees included

W San Francisco

Westin Portland

Vancouver Sheraton Wall Centre, Canada

Total Cost for three stays (relative value since all dates same)

November 17, 2008 lowest internet rate without using promotional link





($203.95USD at exchange rate 1.216CAD=1USD)

$766 USD

November 17, 2008 Better Tomorrows rate using code ZBT (nonrefundable)




($261.51USD at exchange rate 1.216CAD=1USD)

$908 USD

October 13, 2008 search using code ZBT

Better Tomorrows rate (nonrefundable)



$253.50CAD or

($218.53USD at exchange rate 1.160CAD=1USD)

$891 USD


Undoubtedly there were some good bargains with the Better Tomorrows sale. The savings turned out not to be there for the small sample of hotels I checked and could have booked a month ago for this weekend.  An extra 16% is too much a premium to be paid in a nonrefundable reservation in a hotel market that is dropping as fast as the housing market in some locations.

Just another Loyalty Traveler reason to avoid nonrefundable, nonchangeable, no cancellation rates.


Another Starwood Hotels’ website Rate Search Anomaly 

In my searches the past week I have frequently seen rate changes when searching for a hotel by city. The initial search shows a rate higher than shown when you select a specific hotel.

Notice the Planet Hollywood room rate of $88:

Starwood Hotel Rates When Searching Las Vegas 11-17-08



Search for Starwood Hotels Las Vegas Shows Planet Hollywood is $88

Frequently these city rate searches show lower rates when selecting the Book Now button.

Planet Hollywood Rate $59 11-17-08

Planet Hollywood rate drops to $59 after selecting Book Now

The hotel rate shift is not a Las Vegas anomaly as I have seen this same occurrence today for hotels in San Francisco and Vancouver, Canada.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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