MommyPoints had a great post last week about the various Best Rate Guarantees provided by different Hotel Chains.
It was extremely informative and reminded me of a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while about Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee and how you can maximize it to score over a 25% discount on your next stay.
If you aren’t familiar with Hotel “Best Rate Guarantees” or BRGs, essentially it is a guarantee made by the various Hotel chains that if you book on the Hotel’s official website, you will get the absolute best price. If you find a cheaper price on a different site like Hotels.com, then they will match you to that lower price as well as give you some sort of additional discount depending on the Hotel chain.
The idea behind this is that Hotel’s don’t want you to look around because you might decided to stay at a different Hotel Chain. Additionally, they don’t want to pay sites like Kayak.com a referral fee for directing you to Marriott.com to book your stay. They’d prefer if you just went straight to Marriott.com, and didn’t even bother with Kayak or any other hotel search engines.
As MommyPoint’s post points out, the benefit of the Best Rate Guarantees differ by each Hotel Chain. In my experience Marriott’s is the most lucrative with a whopping 25% off compared to only 10% off with Starwood.
Now when I say 25% off, I am not talking about 25% off the price at Marriott.com, I am talking about 25% off the cheapest price you found.
I’ve personally used the Marriott Best Rate Guarantee a couple of times and it has always been extremely successful.
The first time was when Emily & I went to Sydney. We were staying for 10 nights and the rate was almost $300 a night. I found a cheaper rate of $225, so Marriott matched it and then took an additional 25% off that price of $225. So from $300, the price dropped to only $168.75, or a whopping 44% off the original price. Since we were staying for 10 nights, that BRG saved us over $1,312!
The 2nd time was for Emily’s Parents when they went to Paris last Summer. The best rate on Marriott.com was $400 a night but I found a cheaper rate on Priceline.com for $385. The difference was only $15 but it triggered the BRG and it knocked 25% off the new cheaper rate of $385 lowering the price to $288 a night. For their multi-night stay, it saved them a couple hundred dollars.
How To Perform A Successful Best Rate Guarantee Claim
With the prevalence of travel search engines like Kayak.com, finding a Best Rate Guarantee rate is extremely easy.
When I was writing this post last week (pre-mattress run), I was in the process of looking for Hotels for our upcoming Washington D.C trip on July 26 - 28, so I decided to use D.C as my example below. That being said, this process can be used for stays at any Marriotts worldwide and can also be replicated for BRG at other Hotel Chains like Starwood and Hyatt.
Step 1 - Visit A Travel Search Engine
My personal preference is Kayak.com, but you can use anything you like Hotels.com, Hipmunk.com, etc. You just need a single site that compare prices from across the web as well as Marriott.com, so when you are doing this for the first time, I’d avoid Priceline and Expedia because they only search their own prices.
Step 2 - Enter Your Information / Look For Pricing Inconsistencies
After entering your destination information and check-in dates, hit search.
With Kayak.com, it allows you to filter by Hotel Brand, so go ahead and type in Marriott, and select “All Marriott Brands”.
All the Marriott brands for your destination will show up.
Unless you have a particular hotel in mind, I typically sort it by lowest price first.
After you have sorted by price, simply go down the list and look for any inconsistencies between the lowest price offered and what the official Marriott.com website is offering.
In my example below, the official Marriott website would be Courtyard.
As you can see, the 2nd and 3rd results showed a pricing inconsistency.
After I clicked thru to GetARoom.com, I can see the $149 rate for the Courtyard Washington.
Step 3 - Book The Higher Price At Marriott.com
After you find the pricing inconsistencies, to file a BRG claim, you need to first have a Marriott.com booking for their Agents to compare your cheaper rate against.
Since Marriott (and all Hotels) will try to get out of validating your BRG since on to of the lower room rate they also have to give you an additional 25% off that new price, I highly suggest that you book a REFUNDABLE rate when reserving the higher priced room at Marriott.com.
This way, in the event that Marriott refuses your BRG, you can always cancel your higher priced room reservation without a fee.
Sometimes, the lowest rate at Marriott.com is a non-refundable pre-paid rate. I’d suggest staying away from those, because once again if Marriott denies your claim, than you will be stuck.
When I click thru Kayak.com to Courtyard’s official site, the lowest rate I am given is an average nightly rate of $239 a night.
After making sure the reservation was 100% REFUNDABLE and NOT pre-paid, I went ahead and booked the higher Marriott rate knowing that if my BRG was denied, I could fully cancel my reservation without penalty.
Step 4 - Filing A BRG Claim
After you have your confirmation number for your higher priced Marriott stay, simply click the link below to be taken to the BRG claim site.
You will need to fill out the information of your current higher priced Marriott.com room and then information about the cheaper price you found.
You DO NOT need to book the cheaper priced room you found on whatever other site to get Marriott to validate your BRG. You only need to provide the information on how to find that cheaper rate so that Marriott can verify that it is a real rate. If it is valid, they will then modify your higher priced Marriott.com reservation and take off an additional 25% off.
You will need to provide the website where you found the lower priced rate. When you perform a search on a travel search engine, they typically give you a unique url which only you can access, so instead of pasting something like this http://www.kayak.com/hotels#/Washington,DC-c2279/2012-06-04/2012-06-07. I’d just put down the shorter version like http://www.Kayak.com or http://www.orbitz.com. The Marriott Agents who investigate your BRG claims do this everyday, so they should be able to figure out how to use Kayak to perform a simple search.
That being said, they might try to “play dumb” as a way to avoid validating your BRG so I typically include explicit instructions in the comments section on how I found the cheaper rate such as, “I searched Kayak.com for a hotel in Washington D.C on July 26, 2012 date. I found the Courtyard Washington listed for $149 by clicking through Kayak.com to GetARoom.com.
The more mainstream the website, (ie. Kayak.com, Hotels.com, Orbitz.com, etc), the more likely you are to get approved. I’ve found foreign sites are a little harder to get approved because Marriott doesn’t always find them to be “legitimate” or the currency exchange rates mess up the BRG.
I’d also suggest that you always take a screenshot of the lower price you found. This is because sometimes the price you find might be a mistake or simply hasn’t been updated to reflect the new higher price that you see on Marriott.com. Therefore between the time you submit your BRG request, and the time that the Marriott Agents actually investigate your request by going to the cheaper site, the price may change and then they will deny your BRG.
After you submit your BRG claim, just sit back and relax. Typically the Agents get back to you fairly quickly, like in a few hours.
In the event that your claim is denied and you suspect that your claim is in fact legitimate and Marriott is attempt to weasel out of validating your BRG, don’t hesitate to email them back explain why your claim is legitimate. I’ve had this issue before and once I countered whatever argument they made to deny my BRG, I was approved.
If they still deny it, don’t be afraid to submit another claim based on an price you found on another site.
It is 100% FREE to book a refundable room at Marriott.com and submit a BRG claim, so feel free to keep trying until you are successful! The worst the can say is no. Once I submitted 4 different BRG for the same stay, until 1 finally stuck and they validated it.
The thing about Best Rate Guarantees is that they’re far more of an art than a science.
Although it is fairly easy to find a BRG, it doesn’t mean that you will ALWAYS be able to find one at the particular Hotel you are staying at for a certain date, so don’t get discouraged.
Although in this tutorial, the process of finding and filing a BRG sounds tedious and long, it takes maybe about 15 minutes total.
Although it depends on how long and expensive your stay is, as I talked about above, spending 15 minutes filing a BRG with Marriott saved us almost $1,300 in Sydney.
Remember that with Hotel BRG (this excludes BRG from travel search engines like Expedia, Hotels.com, etc.), you still earn all the Hotel reward points and credit towards Elite Status that you would if you hadn’t filed a BRG.
Maximize This Strategy
I always like taking these kind of strategies to the next level so if you got free hotel status from the any of the free Elite Status offers this past year, you can always email Marriott and ask for a Status Match. StatusMatcher.com is a great site for instructions on how to do this. I’ve have done this in the past and got matched to Marriott Platinum Status for our stay in Sydney.
Additionally if you already planning on staying at a Marriott and want to further maximize your BRG, I’d also suggest signing up for the Marriott Credit Card which currently offers 50,000 Marriott points as a sign up bonus as well as 1 free night stay at a Category 1-4 hotel!
In addition to the sign up bonus & free night stay, you also get 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott Hotels, 2 points per $1 spent on dining, airline and rental car purchases. And if that wasn’t enough, you also get an anniversary bonus of 1 free night stay at a Marriott category 1-4 hotel EVERY YEAR!
Anyways I hope this tutorial has been informative and helpful. Hopefully next time you book a hotel stay, you can use a BRG and save at a minimum 25% off!
If you have any questions or comments about Best Rate Guarantees, feel free to email me or leave a comment below!
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