Couple of weeks ago I wrote about the new “most powerful” best price guarantee in the hotel industry. IHG promises the first night to be completely free if you find a lower price after booking on another website. It is not difficult to come to a conclusion that there must have been few people around searching for lower prices on competing websites and claiming their free nights.
The guarantee still sounds quite promising:
We’re so sure the best prices for our hotels are found on our website that we’re standing by them—with the most powerful guarantee ever by a global travel company. Find a lower price elsewhere and your first night is free. That’s our Best Price Guarantee and just one of many benefits you get with the Book With Us Advantage.
What has changed since the introduction of this guarantee?
– Now the currencies must be same on the IHG and the competing website. If the currencies are not the same, the claim will be invalid. Doesn’t make too much sense but probably invalidates most of the claims.
– You used to be able to claim a free night every seven nights at a same property. You could file a claim for free night at another IHG property in the same city, or anywhere in the world for that matter. Now you can get one free night every thirty days period. Must be sufficient if someone only has a few stays per year.
– You could call the guarantee team 24/7. Apparently the telephone hours have been cut to 9AM to 9PM EST. Good luck getting your claim processed if you use the web template/email. Most likely by the time they are looking at your claim the price on the competing website has changed. There have also been reports on the boards that the waiting times to speak to an individual are sometimes around an hour. At other times the call is just disconnected because the queue is full. Why would they introduce a guarantee and not to have the program adequately staffed? If you need to be on the phone for an hour and a half to get your claim processed, including the waiting time, it is unreasonable.
– Originally it was the idea that the hotels, after being contacted by the Best Guarantee Team, would lower the first night to zero. As reported handful of times, there are IHG hotels that are not willing to do that. In those cases the Best Guarantee Team requires the customer to fax a copy of the folio after the stay. Supposedly they will either send you a check or wire the money for the amount paid for the hotel. Not quite sure how this is going to work out.
– They also now have in the Terms and conditions that this program maybe terminated at any time. Wouldn’t be surprised if this happens rather sooner than later.
At this points I wouldn’t call this guarantee “The Most Power Guarantee in the Travel Industry”, when you have to go through all the hoops and then probably end up having to wait an hour and a half on the phone to find out whether your claim is deemed valid or not.