Saving on Hotels With a Best Rate Guarantee — Reader Success Story
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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Nate, who took advantage of Hilton’s booking policies to help his parents save on an upcoming stay. Here’s what he had to say:
Earlier this year, I used TripAdvisor to search for a hotel for my parents in Venice. They were only going to be there for one evening, and they wanted something close to the airport but also with easy access to the city. I compared a couple of hotels and found the Hilton Garden Inn Venice Mestre San Giuliano had everything they were looking for. Because my Dad is a Hilton Honors member, I decided to book the room on hilton.com rather than through the OTA links that TripAdvisor provided.
When I reached the final checkout screen, I noticed the rate quoted rate by Hilton was €2 higher than the lowest rate shown on TripAdvisor. First I thought this may be because of the exchange rate, but I decided to click through to Hotels.com, and the final booking confirmation screen clearly showed the amount due was in euros, and was still €2 cheaper than hilton.com.
I read a TPG article earlier this year that was critical of best rate guarantees. With only limited first-hand experience applying for these price matches, I decided to apply for the Hilton’s Best Price Guarantee just to see if the article was accurate. In looking up how to apply for the guarantee, I discovered that Hilton promises not only to match the best price found elsewhere, but also gives you an extra 25% discount.
Before I applied, I confirmed that the cancellation policies on Hotels.com and hilton.com matched exactly (since the article mentioned that was one reason a price match could be denied). The application process through the Hilton website was easy. Three days later, I got a surprising response by email: Hilton confirmed that the reservation qualified for the best rate guarantee, and that the price on my reservation would be adjusted down to the lower rate with the additional 25% discount. I also received a revised booking confirmation showing the lower rate.
Even though your article was critical of best rate guarantees, it motivated me to test the policy out, which I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise since the price difference was small. Fortunately, Hilton’s guarantee worked and saved my parents over €30. Not bad for a couple additional clicks and about 5 minutes of work!
Most hotel chains offer a best rate guarantee of some sort, but those guarantees are weakened by lengthy terms that make it more difficult to get a claim approved. In the post Nate references, Senior Points and Miles Contributor Richard Kerr argues that hotels should either adjust their policies to make guarantees more functional, or abandon them altogether. I agree with his appraisal of the situation, as the likelihood of even legitimate claims being denied ends up damaging customer loyalty rather than fostering more of it.
As Nate’s story shows, however, best rate guarantees do come through sometimes, and I think they’re worth pursuing on pricier hotel stays despite the low odds of success. That’s especially true with chains like Hilton and Marriott that offer an extra percentage discount, since your potential savings are amplified by the higher room rate — unlike Hyatt, which offers a fixed credit of $50 toward future stays regardless of the original price. Shopping around for the best price is a good practice anyway even if you’re not planning to submit a claim; just remember to factor in the full value of booking directly, since using a third party may negate your rewards and elite benefits.
I love this story and I want to hear more like it! To thank Nate for sharing his experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending him a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to email@example.com; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.
Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Feature image courtesy of Hilton Garden Inn Venice Mestre.
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