Marriott Best Rate Guarantee
Hotel best rate guarantees are something I’ve never been keen on. Over the years I’ve made several claims, each time thinking my claim meets their terms. In only one instance, the hotel chain came through. Oddly enough, it was a previous Marriott best rate guarantee.
What is a Best Rate Guarantee?
Hotels on the whole prefer you to book directly with them rather than through a third-party online travel agency (OTA). For most, OTAs are a necessary evil, as they need their hotels to appear in searches alongside all the others. But they lost a decent amount of the rate when people book through an OTA rather than directly through the hotel chain.
A hotel best rate guarantee (BRG) is a promise that many chains make to you: they guarantee you will pay the lowest possible price when you book directly with them. OTAs will usually match this price, but you’re guaranteed to get the best deal possible with the chain.
As part of this guarantee, the hotel chain will offer you an incentive if you manage to find a better price somewhere else. The Marriott best rate guarantee states that Marriott will match the lower rate and offer one of the following:
- An additional 25% off the rate OR
- 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
Choose wisely, as the 5,000 points is a lump sum, while the 25% off applies to the entire reservation. For a long stay, this could be an amazing savings.
Beyond Marriott, all other major hotel chains offer their own best rate guarantee (under various names): Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Radisson, Choice Hotels. They all offer various compensation. Years ago, IHG offered the first night free, which meant that you had a free stay if you had only booked one night!
A Nice Idea That Often Doesn’t Work
Best rate guarantees may sound nice, but they often aren’t so hot in practice. The hotel chains like to play games with guarantees, with many being super stingy about approving them. You see…each has their own list of terms and conditions. Some make sense. Others can offer weird loopholes that hotel chains will quickly exploit.
First, you need to book a qualifying rate. You can’t make a BRG using a corporate or other special rate that isn’t publicly available (e.g. event rate). Rates available through paid memberships (e.g. AAA) aren’t eligible as well. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.
Beyond this, Marriott considers the following when comparing rates:
- Cancellation rules such as cancellation or refund policies
- Guaranteed room type
- Room amenities
- Other stay perks or benefits
This means that if Marriott offers you free cancellation up until 24 hours before your stay, while the OTA offers cancellation up until only 48 hours out, they can deny your claim (and almost certainly will). Details like these often make BRGs more frustration than they are worth in practice.
My Marriott Best Rate Guarantee Experience
A few days ago I started looking for a hotel for a potential work trip to southern Utah. I was going to be there for two nights, with the first night paid by work. I’d be footing the second night to stay an extra day. Cedar City, Utah doesn’t have any Hyatt properties, and I locked in a room at the Hampton Inn for a reasonable rate.
However, I was interested in booking a Marriott property instead, on the off chance I have a path to Platinum status this year. However, the SpringHill Suites was a solid $20 higher than the Hampton Inn. Justifiable? Probably. But I try to book the cheapest decent place I can.
For some reason I had started by searching Hotels.com, which is not my typical MO. Before I closed the tabs, I noticed that the SpringHill Suites was available at a lower price than at Marriott.com. Intrigued, I checked the details of each rate.
And the Hotels.com rate:
They showed as exactly the same (room type, cancellation policy, etc.). I figured I might actually have a BRG claim! Booking the room directly with Marriott, I headed to the Marriott best rate guarantee form for the first time in years.
Plugging in all my info, I submitted the form. There were a couple hiccups. The auto-populated information was unhelpful, as it didn’t submit correctly. Then it wouldn’t let me select the 5,000 Marriott points instead of the 25% off the second time around. Be wary of technical issues.
Submitting the form, I received an email response that my claim would be looked at within 24 hours. You must submit a claim within 24 hours of booking your hotel directly with Marriott.
Lo and behold, a representative emailed me back the following morning with the good news that my Marriott best rate guarantee had been approved! My new total after taxes is right around $150, since I (unfortunately) opted to take the extra 25% off rather than the points.
Decent hotel for $70 per night before taxes? I’m in.
I’d honestly expected my Marriott best rate guarantee to go nowhere. My previous attempts a few years ago had gone nowhere, with the exception of one where I did manage to snag the Denver Airport Marriott for just $70/night after it was approved. I thought I had a case this time around. Turns out I did! But do beware…most hotels chains love to deny BRG claims. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
What is your experience with hotel best rate guarantees?