One new tool that can potentially help reduce your travel costs is the best rate guarantee. Hotels have to pay commissions to third parties such as hotels.com, booking.com etc if the room is booked through that channel and so capture more revenue if it’s booked on their own website. To try to encourage people that they will get the best price on the hotel’s own website they often have a policy of matching the price and beating it by a set percentage.
For example at http://www.accorhotels.com/gb/garantie/descriptif.shtml you can see the best price guarantee for Accor.
If you book an Accor hotel online on any Accor Internet site and find (within 24 hours) an equivalent offer on another website for the same hotel at a lower price, we will honour the lower rate and give you a further reduction of 10%..
Some programs give more of a discount however. Some notable examples are:
- Choice: If you find a lower price on another site then your first night is free
- Best Western: Find a lower price on another site then match the price and they send you a $100 US gift card
- Intercontinental hotels group: Find a lower price on another site then your first night is free
You should keep in mind that this is a marketing tool and that the incentive is still for the hotel not to give away free rooms. Once you have brought the lower price to the attention of the hotel chain they don’t really have an incentive to help you. The terms and conditions generally state that everything has to be identical ie similar room type, cancellation policy and be booked in a set currency. Often your best rate guarantee won’t be successful as the claim will be denied. For this reason you want to book a flexible rate; if they deny the claim then you can cancel at no charge.
I was hoping to use this tool for my upcoming trip to Europe in September. In order to get used to the process I thought that I’d give this a go for some hotels in Melbourne in May to learn the common pitfalls and see if I could get around them at a point where I’m not pressed for time. I was successful for Choice and Best Western and so decided to book an impromptu holiday down to Melbourne using some Virgin points. More on that in upcoming posts.