Aug152016

Deceptive Hilton rates thwart my BRG claim

I violated my own rule and booked a nonrefundable room rate at DoubleTree Kosice, Slovakia when I believed I had found a slam dunk best rate guarantee claim. The deal is I booked a prepaid room rate at 63.20 EUR, the lowest rate shown on the Hilton webpage search for my dates. This same hotel was priced at 60 EUR all-in on several online travel agency websites for an advance purchase nonrefundable rate.

After a decade of writing about low hotel rates I think I am pretty savvy in finding deals using the hotel chain’s own websites. But Hilton’s website fooled me this time.

In my experience after searching thousands of hotel rates and conducting hundreds of hotel rate analyses, one of the given’s for a hotel chain website is the lowest rate for a one night stay is clearly displayed in an initial search. A group rate like AAA is often a better deal you usually have to search for separately and promotional rates sometimes offer a deeper room rate discount for multiple night stays, but in general, the lowest available rate for a standard hotel room is clearly displayed up front once you enter the stay dates. There is rarely a need to delve deeper into the website checking promotional rates for a simple one night stay in a standard room.

So what happened when I booked a reservation at the DoubleTree Kosice?

  • HHonors Reward = 30,000 points
  • Flexible Rate = 79 EUR
  • HHonors Discount Flexible Rate = 71 EUR (10% discount).
  • HHonors Discount nonrefundable rate = 63 EUR (20% discount).

DoubleTree Kosice Featured Rates

I booked the 63 EUR rate after seeing lower rates on several online travel agency sites like Priceline, even though I was booking a higher priced nonrefundable rate through Hilton than available through several online travel agencies.

Priceline rate for DoubleTree Kosice King Bed $65.45 USD all in is equivalent to 58.50 EUR rate.

DoubleTree Kosice Priceline

Hilton best rate guarantee claims, unlike several hotel chains, does not even require the currency to be the same when comparing OTA rates in US Dollars to the hotel’s local international rates.

Still, I picked an even higher OTA rate on Venere.com priced in EUR to make the comparison to Hilton’s rate easy.

DoubleTree Kosice Venere

Venere.com had a 50 EUR base rate that priced out at 60 EUR ($67.12 USD) all-in for the night.

Hilton BRG claim

“We have received your claim form and you will hear from Guest Assistance by email within 24 hours of submitting your claim.”

I booked the 63.20 EUR ($70.72 USD) HHonors Sale nonrefundable rate for DoubleTree Kosice, submitted my BRG claim against the 60 EUR nonrefundable Venere.com rate and waited for a response from Hilton.

And waited…

and waited…

24 hours passed and no email from Hilton, so I called for assistance.

I finally received an email after waiting another 8 hours, some 32 hours after submitting my best rate guarantee claim to Hilton.

Thank you for taking the time to submit Our Best Price Guarantee claim for your stay at the Doubletree Kosice, Slovakia.

After examining your claim and the rate you located, I was able to determine that a lower rate can be located on Hilton.com. The rate for the 1 King Room is currently being offered through the HHonors Advance Purchase rate plan for €58.80 per night (including tax), which is lower than the amount of €60.00 per night (including tax) found on the third party site. As your current rate plan is non-refundable/non-cancellable, Guest Assistance is unable to modify the amount; therefore, you will need to contact the hotel for further assistance.

I regret to inform that we are unable to honor your Best Price Guarantee claim due to the found rate being more than the HHonors Advance Purchase rate on our website. Should you require further assistance please reply to this e-mail. Please note that we attempt to answer all e-mails within 72 business hours. However, due to our current volume there may be a slight delay. Thank you for your patience.

Not only was my Best Rate Guarantee claim denied by Hilton,

I was informed that I had not even booked the lowest rate available on the Hilton website.

DoubleTree Kosice 63 EUR

I went back on the Hilton website to find this 58 EUR rate.

DoubleTree Kosice Featured Rates

Below the rates shown in the initial search is a link “View Packages and promotions for this room.”

DoubleTree Kosice 58 EUR rate

Sure enough, the HHonors Discount Advance Purchase Rate of 58 EUR per night is listed under packages and promotions for this room.

Are hidden lowest rates a standard Hilton website practice?

Let me be clear. I am not complaining about the room rate. 63 EUR versus 58 EUR is not that big a deal price wise, although I was hoping to land a $50 gift card with a successful Hilton BRG claim and have net room rate of $17 per night.

What I am complaining about is the deceptive Hilton rates displayed for DoubleTree Kosice. As someone who has checked thousands of hotel rates over the past decade, I find it very unusual for a chain hotel to display a higher rate on the main page for a one-night room rate search than is available. I checked at least 20 other Hilton brand hotels in the USA and several countries around the world to see if this was a common Hilton website occurrence?

I am happy to report it is not a common occurrence. Every search I made for a one night stay at hotels around the world revealed the lowest rate was displayed in the initial search.

In fact, DoubleTree Kosice and DoubleTree Bratislava are the only two hotels I found that did not display the lowest rate available for a standard room on a one-night stay on the main page of the initial search results. Both hotels had the lowest rates listed under the “View Packages and promotions for this room.”

DoubleTree Bratislava, Slovakia room rate search initial display

DoubleTree Bratislava rates

To get a better rate display when searching international hotels, I suggest checking the box on the left for Packages and Promotions. In the USA I always chack AAA rates, but I find many hotels in Europe do not offer AAA discounts.

DoubleTree Bratislava lowest rate is also found under Packages and Promotions.

An interesting difference between the two hotels in Kosice and Bratislava is DoubleTree Bratislava’s lowest rate is called HHonors Sale, the same description for the rate I booked in Kosice.

The lowest rate at DoubleTree Kosice is “HHonors Discount Advance Purchase” = 58 EUR, while “HHonors Sale” rate is 63 EUR.

The lowest rate at DoubleTree Bratislava is “HHonors Sale” at 87 EUR, while “HHonors Discount Advance Purchase” rate is 101 EUR.

DoubleTree Bratislava sale rates

In the end, I gambled with a prepaid, nonrefundable room rate at DoubleTree Kosice in the belief that I would land a successful Best Rate Guarantee claim and get a hotel room night for $17 USD net. I lost that bet.

Instead I will pay 64.70 EUR or $72.37 USD for a room night in Kosice. This is $6.80 USD more than the lowest rate that was available for my date.

My consolation is knowing I get a complimentary breakfast at the hotel as a Hilton HHonors Diamond member.

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 BoardingArea.com in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. I am also questioning Hilton’s hidden fees and deceptive and misleading practices. Like you I booked an non refundable guaranteed lowest rate……which it went down in price I called like you and was told no and its was non refundable. I also had booked in the US and mine clearly said usd I also called both hilton and AE to confirm this as I would not have your used AE with a foreign transaction fee both assured me as it was guaranteed / pre booked/ pre paid stay it would be USD. I dont even take that card with me overseas. I come to find that they charged foreign transaction fees and the guaranteed rate was now a higher rate than agreed upon……I have called and called no help. Its now all in dispute with AE……and then BBB depending on outcome. The money is a great deal but its the principle of the fact and whats the point it doing the pre book/ guaranteed rate thing then. Hilton is very misleading on this never had this issue with IHG.

  2. Hilton is being deceptive by offering a promotional rate that is only found by clicking on a promotional rate link?

  3. @Nichols – First time I ever recall a standard room advance purchase rate being posted in a separate package and promotion links page on the hotel chain website.

    I have looked at many thousands of hotel rates over the past decade and written up many analyses of how rates are displayed on hotel websites.

  4. Hey Ric, thanks for posting about this. I have never seen a standard room rate hidden under the a package and promotion tab .. tricky tricky.

  5. Ric, do you not use Hilton’s MVP and USOC rates (available pretty much to all HHonors members)?

  6. @propaganda – no group rates when I am trying to score a best rate guarantee. Group rate reservations like AAA rates and the ones you mention do not qualify for best rate guarantee claims.

Comments are closed.