Starwood Preferred Guest offers Best Rate Guarantee that promises to match the lower third party rate and give further 20% discount or 2,000 bonus Starpoints.
Starwood’s BRG is one of the better ones as they match regardless of the cancelable/prepaid and the room type may even be sold out on SPG.com (hotels often sell inventory to 3rd parties).
You can access SPG’s BRG here.
The problem in the past week has been the response time (at least for me). Starwood took anywhere from 30 to 44 hours to look at the claims (English websites) when they used to do this within few hours/max close to a day.
Friend of mine did an unsuccessful claim and he received a response within 4 hours that is typical.
Here what Starwood may be doing:
1. Delay responding to potentially successful claims by sitting on them and hoping that the third party rates go up.
2. Delay processing claims for those that have had number of successful ones.
3. Have different offices handling claims for regions. The time stamp on my claim was IST (India Standard Time) while my friend’s account is based in Canada.
4. Not staffing the Best Rate Guarantee department adequately leading to unacceptable delays.
Hotels rarely if ever have the lowest prices available on their own branded websites. If you have time in your hands and dig deep enough, you can usually always find a lower rate on a third party site. Whether you can get it matched regardless of these “best price” promises is entirely different matter, however.
This is especially important with Starwood considering how anemic the actual point earnings from the stays are without BRG bonuses compared the number of points required for “free” nights.