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How to Use Hotel Elite Status to Force Room Availability

by on September 20, 2011 · 20 comments

in Carlson, Fairmont, Hilton, Hotel Industry, Hyatt, Intercontinental/ Ambassador, Marriott, Priority Club Rewards, Starwood

I’ve been a top-tier member of multiple hotel chains over the years and there’s one benefit I’ve never used – the guaranteed room availability perk that is included with many of them.

Generally, I book my travel in advance and I can usually find ways to get a reasonably priced room at my preferred property. Well I found out relatively last minute that I needed to be in Toronto this evening and lo and behold – nearly every single hotel in the city was sold out.

No sweat, I’ll just use my Starwood Platinum status to force a room – nope, below you need at least 72 hours. So then I checked my Royal Ambassador benefits and they have a 24 hour forced reservation. Perfect.

However, the process was far from easy. I called reservations and they transferred me several times until I got to the Ambassador service center, who had to physically call the two Toronto Intercontinentals and speak to their managers. I was put on hold for about 10 minutes and was told the first hotel GM was busy so I’d have to follow up with him directly and she gave me a reference number.

I was put on hold again while she called the Yorkville Intercontinental and after 8 minutes I had to hang up due to an important incoming call. She ended up calling me back and leaving me a voicemail and another confirmation number asking me to call the property.

Long story short, one property wanted $500+ and another $349 and before either of them got in touch with me I found a reasonably priced Holiday Inn outside the city for $150ish, so I decided not to invoke my “forced” reservation. Since most of these benefits require a full rack rate, I don’t think I’ll be using them in the future, but I thought it would be useful to list them out for comparison purposes.

Have you ever used one of these perks? If so, what was your experience like?

Club Carlson: Concierge status: 48-hour room availability guarantee at participating hotels. Guaranteed room availability is for a standard room only at standard rates, and is subject to the participating hotel’s standard guarantee and cancellation policy. Free Award Nights or Points + Cash Award Stays are not eligible for the room availability guarantee.  Room availability guarantee is not available at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel, and does not apply in cases where a nationally or internationally recognized event is occurring within fifty miles of a participating hotel (as determined by Club Carlson).
Gold status: 72-hour room availability guarantee at participating hotels
Fairmont: Platinum status: Guaranteed room access (last-minute reservation requests with 72-hour notice even on sold-out dates – city-center hotels only).
Hilton: Diamond status: 48 hours prior to arrival, except during Extraordinary Demand Date periods, when the hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by more than 10%, and for some hotels when the hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by more than 2%. These reservations are only applicable to paid stay reservations for all room types and reward stay reservations for standard rooms.
Hyatt: Diamond status48-hour guarantee. Guarantee valid for one standard guest room when paying the hotel’s Hyatt Daily Rate. Not valid at Hyatt Resorts, Hyatt Residence Club Resorts, or during extraordinary room demand.
IntercontinentalRoyal Ambassador status: 24 hour advance notice.  Reservations must be made before 12:00 midday (local hotel time) 24 hours prior to intended arrival for room availability to be guaranteed. Only in exceptional circumstances where the hotel has been completely reserved by the Government and with explicit Priority Club Rewards approval, may a reservation be declined. Rate paid is Best Available.
MarriottPlatinum status: 48 hours prior to arrival for paid stays.
Priority ClubPlatinum status: Requires 72 hours advance notice. Platinum Elite members are guaranteed one guest room for personal use for reservations made at least 72 hours prior to the date of arrival, except during special events that result in extraordinary room demand, as determined solely by the hotel. Guaranteed room availability is not valid for Reward Nights. These reservations are to be made at the hotels directly or through the Priority Club Service Center.
Starwood: Platinum status: Applicable to one standard room booked by 3 p.m. local time 72+ hours before day of arrival at participating hotels. Member must pay regular RACK rate. Black-out dates apply. Not available at resorts. Room upgrade and Free Night Award redemption do not apply when this benefit is utilized. Minimum length-of-stay requirement must be met.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author.s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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  • Ben Shearon

    I did this at a Crowne Plaza (Priority Club) in Japan earlier this year: the hotel was sold out but I wanted to stay there :)

    Contacted the property directly, who seemed not to be aware of the benefit (took three emails to get them to acknowledge it and confirm the room). It was an expensive standard room, but I was glad to have this to fall back on when I needed it.

  • http://twitter.com/BrianKlick Brian Klick

    Used the Hilton Diamond forced reservation 3 times – all 3 times were quick and easy, even when I thought there was probably a good chance of being denied. Last booking was an oceanfront hotel in the middle of summer 4 days out – hotel was booked solid for a few weeks before and after my requested date. Still was able to book a 4 day reward stay. So kudos to Hilton so far – it works.

  • JA

    Too bad you missed the Leafs game last night!

  • Anonymous

    I did this in Cinci – room was expensive but was happy to stay in the Westin vs. a dump (SPG platinum line was the most helpful)

  • Anonymous

    “a reasonably priced Holiday Inn outside the city for $150ish”

    Am authority on this, as I grabbed last-minute AA $228+taxes rt MIA-YYZ 9/15-19;
    3* downtown could have been “had” for $114+taxes/night via Priceline bid;
    (airport zones 4* about $70+taxes/night)
    I went with iStopOver short term private apt. stay w/breakfast off Yonge Business District $299 total 4 nights;
    Chase Sapphire Preferred manually added 500 points on my request as vendor was not set up as travel vendor.
    Maximizing rewards is one thing, spending less at same time = true wealth, IMO.

  • Anonymous

    I have no doubt priceline rates are cheaper than regular hotel rates. But elite status and points (including a grand slam hit) plus the cheaper parking actually made staying outside of the city cheaper.

  • Anonymous

    I have used Marriott’s Platinum guarantee quite a bit and it does not require a premium rate – I can still use my corporate discounted rate and get a room 48 hours out. With Marriott you can typically cancel the same day before 6:00 (unlike Hyatt and Starwood) so I always book a Marriott stay when going to a high occupancy location, realizing I can cancel last minute if something better comes up or if my travel plans change.

    I have actually used this feature with rental cars more than hotels – certain airports (Wichita, O’Hare to name a few) run out of cars quite a bit. I always forget to rent my car until last minute, but am often saved by National’s 24 hour guarantee for Emerald Elites. Plus you can game the system a little – if it is 7:00 pm and I need a car the next morning, but it is sold out – in theory I am out of luck for the guarantee… However National does not really pay attention to the booking time, so I would book my reservations for 7:30 PM the next day (over 24 hours out) but pick up the car the next morning – the reservation in the system must not show a pickup time, so just having a reservation that day is good enough… One of the many great benefits of National…

  • Adfadfasdfa

    I agree with TravelShooter…except I would have chosen the hottest of wires as my site of choice. If you save $200-300 over rack rate, that’s worth 10k-30k miles/points right thar.

  • Asdfasdfasd

    Are you using someone else’s money? Does the hotel provide free sex workers as a perk? I still don’t understand when you would absolutely have to stay at any one hotel especially when you have to pay full rack rate.

  • Denis

    Marriott Platinum benefit played a very bad joke to me – it allowed me to book a room in the hotel during a night when the hotel was actually closed (due to electrical systems maintenance I believe). It’s good that the morning of my check-in a hotel manager called me and told me that he rebooked me into the across-the-road Embassy Suites.

  • Eggss4

    Brian, I actually had some great luck with this a few times with Hilton Diamond status. Not only was it easy to use the diamond force but they even let me use points! I used them for a football weekend in Morgantown, WV when the rooms at a (normally priced $150 a night Hampton Inn) were $400 and they let me use them for 25,000 points a night, without any issues.

  • Anonymous

    Thats awesome. Hilton seems to be the most generous with this benefit

  • Anonymous

    Am I wrong in believing that when you exercise this “perk” that someone else with a valid room reservation is booted out of the hotel and told that the room is no longer available? If that is not what happens, can anyone tell me what does happen?

  • Pingback: Priority Club Guaranteed Availability Platinum Benefit « Flyalog

  • Robert

    Have had great success with Marriott Platinum. Booked downtown hotel next to customer while rest of team was sent to the burbs. Used to book close hotel for F1 race. Never strange rates, usually “Corporate Rate”

  • Guest

    I just tried the Hilton guarantee. They couldn’t give me an answer on the phone or a rate. They had to passs it to another group and they’d get back to me in a few days. They got back to me and the rate was $249 for a Hilton Garden Inn. I come to this area often and always stay here and the average rate is max $130. This is how they get you.

  • Robert

    I tried it with Hyatt this week in DC. It did not work. In Park I was told that they sent their Black Out Dates already and this exclude them from this Diamond perk. In Regency I was told that they are “really sorry” but I need to find some other hotel. In Place they gave me a rate of 430.00 claiming that it is regular rate since International Monetary Found is in town….Oh well

  • DonV

    I just exercised this option for the week of 10/10 in a location I frequent for client visits. It was the first time I really needed to, but the process was very smooth.

    I typically have a corporate discount applied to my room rate, though the rep I spoke to didn’t have that readily available. That is no problem, though. The front desk at the hotel recommended I follow this process and they’ll adjust my room rate once the reservation is set.

    With Marriott, I found this to be a very smooth process and appreciate the benefit.

  • Fd

    this is a lifesaver if you need to be in a medium sized city on business during a major convention
    for me the best was Pittsburgh during the NRA convention, the SPG plat desk came through and I didn’t get shot
    I don’t think they boot people out of the hotel. they just hold a room or two for this purpose. my whole team tried it once and the last guy to book got a rollaway in a suite that did not have a bed (the last customer broke it)

  • Andrew

    Just tried this at the Park Hyatt SIem Reap. Told me that since they’re a resort, cannot use the benefit there. Not sure where it’s listed that they are a resort, but will trust them that this is the case.

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