wandering amphibia

Best Rate Guarantee programs at hotels

With the proliferation of discount hotel booking websites and margin erosion, hotels have been desperately trying to bring people back to their sites. To do that meant letting people pay the lower rate – which generally means two things: 1) no commission to a third party (yet depending on the rate, this may or may not imply a “loss”, depending how low it is) – but 2) far more importantly, this cultivates brand loyalty – if you make 10 futile attempts at BRGs and realise that in the end the chain’s site always had the best price, will you bother again? Probably not – and then the hotel has you.

To achieve this, all chains guarantee that you are getting the best deal, one way or another. SPG will match the rate and either give 2,000 SPG points or discount further by 10%. Hilton will simply discount further by 25%. Intercontinental will match the rate and give the first night free.

There are different ways of profiting from this – Hilton’s might be good for longer stays, SPG’s for points (if someone else is paying 🙂 ), but Intercontinental is awesome for high-value, single night stays. Their BRG is very tightly controlled – you have to be sure your claim ticks all the boxes – but once it does, the free night is yours. They have a decent number of other properties (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, etc), but obviously the best scores are the imposing $2,000+ suites at the likes of IC Le Grand and others (and yes – the BRG works for *any* room type).

For my upcoming NYC trip where I managed to find availability at The Plaza for the free night + upgrade Fairmont Platinum certificate, I decided to try my luck at an IC property. Had no luck at either of the two ICs… but checkin Crowne Plaza, a corner Times Square view room, regularly $270 or so on the chain’s site, came out to $250 elsewhere. A phone call later and I had it at $0.01 🙂