I finally get my first Best Rate Guarantee claim. Yay!

With the penetration of the Internet, one of the enabling factors for the various travel providers such as hotels is their ability to cut out the middle-men, i.e., the travel agents. The only way the can afford to do this, or they claim to do this, is by promising that they are putting out the best available rates on their websites, and no one else is going to be lower.

The hotel business does have a lot more commissions as compared to the airline business, which works on wafer thin margins for the agents now. Hence, the ability to discount for a travel agency is much more, and they do it all the time.

What do I stand to lose, if I book via third-parties? I don’t get my status related benefits, which can be okay for a one-off traveller, but when you’re a road warrior, you definitely need these privileges.

Most times, I am not so worried about pricing, because I’m booked up via corporate contracts. But there are also times when I want to go to places inside the network of hotels for leisure. Last month, on a trip to Jaipur, it turned out so.

I booked up the Four Points by Sheraton, Jaipur for my overnight trip. However, I realised that the hotel was selling a better deal via Cleartrip.com. If I bought the same rate from Starwood as the Cleartrip one, they were selling it for 10% extra. In fact, Cleartrip was advertising the same rate as Starwood and scratching it. Here is a screenshot from Cleartrip:

Anyhow, I did not expect much. The first time around, Starwood refused the BRG claim, stating the rate at Cleartrip.com was an on request price, which meant that once I asked for a room to be booked, they’d go back to the hotel and ask for them to book a room within 48-72 hours. That got me all red in my face, because they were denying the claim on a technicality that was wrong!

So I wrote back to Starwood explaining the situation again, and it did take a bit of back and forth to explain to them what was happening. It is stupid although for a claim desk to be sitting in the USA and processing a BRG claim in another part of the world where they at least did not understand the technicalities or the local currency and so on.

Fortunately, the claim was approved, and I was offered a further 10% discount on the competing rate, or 2000 Starpoints extra for the stay. Guess what did I choose?

Winking smile

Bottomline: it is always a good idea to compare rates while booking. Sometimes, those few minutes will help you with a lot of points or discounts.

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About Ajay Awtaney

Ajay is a financial services pro, working to bring order to the chaos of the financial industry on an everyday basis! Beyond that, he dons the hat of India's favourite frequent traveller, trying to help people elevate their travel experience via tips and tricks they never knew before, or introduce them to the world of miles and points. Armed with an MBA from MDI Gurgaon and graduate degree in computer science from the University of Delhi, Ajay brings a systematic and objective approach on the table for his audience in dissecting travel and loyalty programs in India and around the world, and how to benefit from them. Ajay has been quoted in various reputed traditional and online media including The Hindustan Times, Inside Flyer, Bloomberg, DNA India, Conde Nast Traveller, The Telegraph, Mumbai Mirror, Mint, MoneyLife and The USA Today.

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Comments

  1. Hi AJ,
    Do we need to book on Cleartrip and show them the proof or just an online snapshot is adequate to claim discount / bonus starpoints?
    Besides, SPG claims they do not credit Starpoints if booked through other agencies, did you receive any starpoints credit for your stay booked through Cleartrip?

    • @Nikhil You need to book on Starwood’s own website, and SPG needs to be independently able to verify your claim that another website is offering the stay at a cheaper rate. if this happens and they approve, then you get the 10% off or 2000 starpoints

  2. Hi AJ, does BRG works if you apply a promo code ? I was trying to book Hyatt, Amritsar. The price at Hyatt.com and goindigo.in was same 3k per night. But goindigo.in also provides 5% discount via a promocode (publicly available). Which makes it a cheaper deal for me. I went back to Hyatt for BRG, but it was declined saying the pricing is same on both website.I did not pursue it further as I was not sure.

    • @Gaurav different hotel chains have different policies about this. What does the Hyatt policy say about this to you?

  3. Hey could you give me a clue on how you changed spg’s mind? I’m kind of having the same issue with the Sheraton Macau I’m trying to book, which is around 15% cheaper on ctrip… They gave me the same response that you got first time around.

  4. How did you manage to convince them that they were talking through their hat? Did you get the feeling that their initial fob-off was a genuine misunderstanding or a deliberate attempt at deterrence?

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