My friend S. passes along that on January 27, Travelocity will be running a “UK 24 hour sale” claiming 50% off.
Why do we care? Most of these sales are overhyped and this is the Travelocity U.K. site after all.
Quite simply, it’s a great opportunity for successful best rate guarantee claims. Hotels will likely be offering inventory there on that site that they aren’t offering through their home booking channel.
Chain hotels don’t generally participate in these sort of sales on US sites because they’ll be out of parity with their chain’s booking sites. But few best rate guarantee claims do it against international booking pages. So hotel revenue managers tend to offer their better rates on these international sites frequently.
This works especially well with big city international markets such as New York, San Francisco, Miami, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Orlando — cities likely to be heavily marketed to an international audience. These sales wind up happening somewhat regularly on Expedia and Travelocity, and you can also best rate guarantee Travelocity.co.u against Expedia.com for independent hotel properties that don’t offer their own best rate guarantees.
S. suggested I hold off blogging this until January 27 when the pending sale gave me several examples, and that might have been the better decision. But that’s just a 24 hour sale so it wouldn’t give folks a lot of time to play with it, and I’m mostly interested in this from an intellectual exercise, I find it really interesting that despite Best Rate Guarantees you’ll often find revenue managers purposely undercutting their chain’s booking sites. Best rate guarantees don’t actually mean that you’ll find the best rates at SPG.com or Hilton.com for instance.
These policies just mean that if you can prove lower rates elsewhere you’ll get some sort of adjustment. They’re supposed to imply you’ll get the best rates on their sites, and of course there are costs incurred in the small percentage of times that rates are lower elsewhere, a consumer notices it, and goes through the hoops of the claim process. Hotels are still trying to maximize total revenue, considering the risk of these claims and the likelihood that they can sell incremental rooms at a lower price through alternate booking channels — like putting their rates in front of an international audience for a short period of time. But if you’re aware of this technique, it’s an opportunity to take advantage of as a traveler.
What does this technique get you? Each chain is different, but with a successful Best Rate Guarantee claim:
- Hyatt knocks 20% off compared to the lower rate you’ve found.
- Hilton matches your lower rate and gives you a $50 Amex gift card (for US, Canada, Mexico), or $50 off your hotel bill (rest of the world).
- Intercontinental Hotels (Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, etc) will match price elsewhere and give you first night free.
- Marriott gives you 25% off the lower rate.
- Starwood gives you a choice of 10% off the lower rate or 2000 points, so for folks who don’t care about the room price (eg their employer pays) they pocket something personally.
Wyndham, Kimpton, Choice, Radisson, and others have Best Rate Guarantee policies as well.
Of course some chains are more helpful than others in the Best Rate Guarantee process, the subject of a different post will be those chains that seem to deny legitimate claims as often as not. But at a firs pass it’s important to be booking the exact same room type, frequently chains will deny claims when a room you find at a lower price includes more extra free benefits — somehow the fact that the lower price includes breakfast or airport transfers means that it doesn’t count versus the more expensive room at the chain site. But again, that’s a story for a different day. Just make sure you follow the rules of the chain’s best rate guarantee process, and then using sites like Travelocity.co.uk during special sales can be one place to find rates that are lower (even slightly lower) than on a chain’s own website.