Vacation costs can add up pretty quickly – but so can your discounts. To save up to 20% or more off your paid hotel stays, try to take advantage of hotel best rate guarantee (“BRG”) programs by searching for a cheaper rate on a third-party booking channel.
Once you know how to use BRGs, this process should only take about 5 extra minutes but can save you tons of cents. See below for an example of how to save $110 on one night’s stay that took less than 5 minutes to find.
HOW IT WORKS
Companies want to get you used to booking through their channels, so they can build a relationship with (and market to) you directly. They also save or receive service fees when you book through them rather than a separate channel.
Two main tactics companies use to get you to book directly are 1) points and loyalty program benefits; and 2) best rate guarantees.
Points and loyalty program benefits are great and more well-known, but BRGs are additive and can be even more lucrative. Typical BRG programs will not only match the lowest price, but also give you an additional discount or points.
For example, SPG’s BRG program will allow you to choose an “additional 20% discount off the Competing Rate” or 2,000 additional starpoints per stay (valued at ~$50 @ 2.5c per point). (See below for a summarized list of programs and benefits).
There are some terms and conditions, however. Typically, you will have to submit an online claim form within 24 hours of booking, and you have to provide a rate that you can confirm booking at a lower price.
Some sites, like Ctrip, don’t typically qualify for BRG programs because they provide a rate that they estimate they can get, but don’t confirm the rate until after you try to book (avoid these). Booking.com, Expedia.com, Priceline.com, and hotel apps/websites are good places to quickly check for lower competing rates.
To maximize your chances, I recommend following the process below if you find a competing rate that’s lower:
- If you have to book before submitting a claim, book a refundable rate if you can so that if your competing doesn’t qualify, you can re-submit later or cancel your reservation.
- Submit a claim form asap. Most programs require you to fill out a form within 24 hours of booking.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try again by cancelling your original reservation, re-booking, and then re-submitting a valid BRG claim.
Keep in mind that each program might have different rules. Some programs do not require you to book first before submitting a claim, but many direct hotel BRG programs do.
If you are extremely flexible with dates and locations for your stay, you can almost guarantee yourself a BRG guarantee claim before you book.
STEP BY STEP EXAMPLE
I like to use hotel BRG programs rather than online travel agency (“OTA”) BRG programs because I can earn points and take advantage of elite status in addition to the BRG rebate. So I’ll typically take advantage of the SPG BRG program.
On the SPG page, the lowest rate for the Condesa, a SPG Design Hotel, is $279 a night.
However, on expedia.com I can reserve a room directly for $232 a night.
This is great. I can book a refundable rate directly with SPG for a little more than the $279, copy the expedia link and submit a BRG claim right away.
When I submit the claim to SPG, I can choose either 2,000 points per stay, or 20% off the competing rate. 2,000 points would be worth ~$50, but the 20% off, after taxes and fees, would be worth $110.68 off the original SPG rate!
|Per Night||$ 279.00||$ 232.49||$ 185.99|
|Taxes and Fees||$ 53.01||$ 44.17||$ 35.34|
|Total Per Night||$ 332.01||$ 276.66||$ 221.33|
After submitting a claim, you should receive a confirmation email or a rejection email (explaining why the claim doesn’t qualify) within 24 hours.
Now, not only can I save $110.68, but I still earn points for my stay and qualify to use all my elite benefits. Thank you SPG!
If you travel for work, you can use BRG claims to reduce the cost of your stay to save money or get your nightly rate below a certain budget — or increase the points you earn on each stay.
A couple minutes of price shopping can save you hundreds of dollars during your hotel stay. Will you start using BRG programs to save when you book hotels?
HOTEL BRG PROGRAMS AND BENEFITS (As of Sept. 2016)
- SPG will match the lower competing rate and give you an additional 20% off or 2,000 points per stay.
- Hyatt will match the lower rate and give you an additional 20% off.
- IHG will match the lower rate and give you your first night’s room price free.
- Hilton will match the lower rate and give you an additional 25% off.
- Marriott will match the lower rate and give you an additional 25% off.
- Choice Hotels will match the rate and give you $50 in a reward card or first night free.
- Omni will match the lower rate and give you an additional 20% off.
- Club Carlson will match the lower rate and give you an additional 25% off.
- Best Western will match the lower rate and send you a $100 travel card.
- Accor Hotels will match the lower rate and give you an additional 10% off.
OTA BRG PROGRAMS AND BENEFITS (As of Sept. 2016)
- Priceline will refund the difference but refund 2x the difference if you booked an express deal and found a lower price.
- Hotels.com will match the lower price by refunding you the difference or sending a coupon.
- Orbitz will match the lower price, and if you’re an Orbitz Rewards member give you an extra $50.
- Travelocity will refund the difference and give you $50 off your next trip.
- Booking.com will match the lower rate.
- Expedia will match the lower rate and give you a $50 travel coupon.