This is a loyalty traveler research article on hotel best rate guarantee discount rates. Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) claims shaved thousands of dollars off hotel rates for me over the past several years. I was thinking about different best rate guarantee policies and asked myself the question, ‘If there were potential best rate guarantee claims available in every chain for a $100 hotel chain rate compared to a $90 online travel agency rate, then which chain has the best value hotel best rate guarantee offering the deepest rate discount?”
This is the first time I have analyzed major hotel loyalty programs to examine the effect when a best rate guarantee claim is extended over multiple nights. I created three tables to show the effect of best rate guarantee claims for stays of 1 to 6 nights on a best rate guarantee approved claim room rate.
This article looks at best rate guarantee policies for nine hotel programs and examines the effect on total hotel stay cost when a 10% lower rate is found at an online travel agency (OTA) site like Expedia.com for a hotel that is priced at $100 on the hotel chain’s site.
Additional articles will look at a $200 hotel rate found for $180 or $160 at an OTA site to see the impact of a 10% and 20% lower OTA rate applied to a best rate guarantee claim across nine hotel chains. These are more realistic room rates for many cities like San Francisco and New York.
My specific question is which hotel chain’s rate adjustment offers the best value when a $100 hotel chain rate is approved for a best rate guarantee against a $90 rate on a competitor online travel agency?
Is a free night always a better value than a rate discount?
Assume a Marriott Courtyard and a Holiday Inn Express are $100 on the hotel chain sites and these hotels are $90 on Expedia.com for the same room.
- Marriott take 25% off the $90 rate for a $67.50 room night.
- IHG gives the first night free. A one night stay costs nothing. Each additional night is priced at lower $90 rate.
Obviously, IHG is the better value compared to Marriott with a free night on a one night stay.
What happens when you stay four nights on a best rate guarantee? How does Marriott’s $67.50 rate over four nights compare to IHG first night free and $90 rate for the remaining three nights?
To answer this question I created a table for nine major hotel chains showing the net rate when a $100 hotel room is available for $90 and the lower rate is approved through a Best Rate Guarantee claim.
[click table to enlarge]
Cells highlighted in yellow show a net discount of 30% or more. The table assumes the hotel website offered a $100 room rate and a best rate guarantee claim was approved for a $90 rate available from an online travel agency like Hotels.com.
The table shows that most programs (7 of 9 hotel chains) offer a deep discount of 32.5% to 60% for two night stays, but as you stay more nights, say five nights, the programs offering a 30% or greater discount on the original $500 rate drops to only three hotel chains with Marriott, Carlson and Best Western. Stay six nights and the best discounts are Marriott, Carlson and Hyatt requiring the least money out of pocket. The common feature of best rate guarantee claims with Carlson, Hyatt and Marriott is a set 20% or 25% off the lower rate found.
The data reveal that the best value best rate guarantee depends on the number of nights you stay and the adjusted room rate you pay. Staying more nights favors programs with a set percentage discount like Marriott and Carlson. Staying one or two nights on a relatively low $90 per night rate favors programs like IHG and Choice with one free night or Best Western and Hilton with a set cash rebate.
Best Rate Guarantee (BRG) claim rate adjustments based on $90 approved rate. [adjusted hotel rate for approved $90 BRG rate]
Best Western = match lower rate + $100 Best Western Travel Card (only valid for BW hotels) [$90 rate per night + $100 BW card for future hotel stay]
Choice Hotels = first night free + match lower rate. [1st night free and $90 for additional nights]
Club Carlson = 25% off lower rate. [$67.50 per night]
Hilton = $50 American Express gift card (valid for anything). [$90 rate per night + $50 AmEx card for any spend purpose]
Hyatt = 20% off lower rate. [$72 per night]
InterContinental Hotels Group = first night free + match lower rate. [1st night free and $90 for additional nights]
Marriott = 25% off lower rate. [$67.50 per night]
Starwood = 10% off lower rate or 2,000 Starpoints + match lower rate. [$90 rate per night + 2,000 points or $81 per night]
Wyndham = 10% off lower rate. [$81 per night]
One and Two Night Stays
On one or two night stays where the $100 hotel chain rate is adjusted for a best rate guarantee claim to a $90 base rate, 7 of 9 hotel chains offer at least a 30% discount on the original $100 room rate. Hyatt falls slightly below with a 28% discount.
For a one night stay, IHG and Choice offer the first night free on an approved best rate guarantee.
Perhaps Best Western is even better than one free night for a one night $90 hotel rate since paying the reduced rate of $90 earns Best Western Rewards points, promotion credit, elite credit and the $100 Best Western travel card. Your net rate is free with a $10 credit for your next Best Western hotel stay.
Three night stays see Hilton and Starwood drop out of the 30% discount BRG programs. Hilton gives a $50 credit per stay for an approved BRG. This means the more money you spend on the hotel stay, the less of a discount you get on the room rate. Starwood points I valued at 2,000 Starpoints = $50 rebate value. My table shows the net rate paid is the same for both Hilton and Starwood across the chart. 10% off the lower rate for a Starwood best rate guarantee offers little value on a low cost room. Hilton, Starwood and Wyndham are the least generous discounts for extended stays on low cost rooms.
Hotel Extended Stay?
Marriott, Carlson and Hyatt are best value Best Rate Guarantees
The table shows the more nights you stay, the better value you get from best rate guarantees that offer an additional room rate percentage discount.
Marriott and Carlson (25% off lower rate) and Hyatt (20% off) are the best programs for a best rate guarantee when you are staying five nights or more or you are paying higher room rates than the $90 approved rate used in the table.
At five and six nights, the total room rate paid and total discount for a $90 per night best rate claim looks like this across the chains:
Hotel chain rate = $500 for 5 nights at $100 per night.
$90 rate approved Best Rate Claim for 5 nights.
- Carlson = $337.50 for 32% discount on $500 rate.
- Marriott = $337.50 for 32% discount.
- Best Western = $450 + $100 travel card = $350 net for 30% discount.
- Choice = $360 for 28% discount.
- Hyatt = $360 for 28% discount.
- IHG = $360 for 28% discount.
- Hilton = $450 + $50 American Express card = $400 net for 20% discount.
- Starwood = $450 + 2,000 Starpoints = $400 net for 20% discount.
- Starwood = $405 for 19% discount (when choosing 10% discount rate instead of 2000 points)
- Wyndham = $405 for 19% discount.
Take note that the actual out of pocket payment for your hotel folio room rate ranges from $337.50 with Carlson and Marriott to $450 with Best Western, Hilton and Starwood (when taking 2,000 Starpoints rather 10% off).
Best Western and Starwood require future travel to get value from the card and points rebates. Hilton is essentially $400 out of pocket since you can pay your BRG hotel bill with the American Express $50 card rebate.
There is a shake-up in the order when you go to six or more hotel nights.
Hotel chain rate = $600 for 6 nights at $100 per night.
$90 rate approved Best Rate Claim for 6 nights.
The table in this post only shows five nights, but the trends are Hyatt maintains a 28% discount on the original $100 per night room rate while the discount percentage is going down for Best Western, Choice, Hilton, IHG and Starwood as more nights are stayed on the best rate guarantee adjusted nightly rate. This can mean a big difference if you are looking at a 6 or 7 night vacation stay with a BRG discount rate. At six nights, Hyatt’s 20% discount overtakes the free night value of Choice and IHG and the Best Western $100 gift card.
- Carlson = $405 for 32% discount on $600 rate.
- Marriott = $405 for 32% discount.
- Hyatt = $432 for 28% discount.
- Best Western = $540 + $100 travel card = $440 net for 27% discount.
- Choice = $450 for 25% discount.
- IHG = $450 for 25% discount.
- Starwood = $486 for 19% discount (when choosing 10% discount rate instead of 2000 points)
- Wyndham = $486 for 19% discount.
- Hilton = $540 + $50 American Express card = $490 net for 18% discount.
- Starwood = $540 + 2,000 Starpoints = $490 net for 18% discount.
Take note that Carlson and Marriott members are paying $405 out of pocket for 6 nights while Best Western, Hilton and Starwood members are paying $540 out of pocket for the same $90 hotel rate. Hilton sends a $50 American Express card with immediate value. Best Western gives $100 travel card, but only good for another Best Western. Starwood points have multiple uses like hotel stays or airline miles, but that is delayed compensation and you might be better off with $135 in your pocket.
The data for the table in this post is based on a hotel chain asking $100 for a room and the same room is found for $90 on a site like Expedia. I picked these hotel rate numbers since they are most common for the type of best rate guarantee claims I typically file.
Many travelers frequent the $200 per night hotel market segment.
Hilton and Starwood offer a good value best rate guarantee when you get $50 in cash or points on a $90 room rate. That set BRG discount is not as significant when you are paying $180 per night on the best rate guarantee reduced rate.
The next post shows the same table using a $200 room that is priced 10% less at $180 on a competitor site like Travelocity.com for stays of one to five nights.
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. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.