A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us a Best Rate Guarantee case where Marriott refused to match a third-party site selling the same room at a significant discount.
You can access Marriott’s page for its Best Rate Guarantee program here.
READ MORE: Marriott Bonvoy Rate & Bonus Points Offers
Email From The Reader
I’ve been traveling a lot the last 40 years with over 5 million miles on airplanes, a thousand nights at Marriott properties, and on and on. I’ve recently had several inconsistencies with Marriott’s Price Guarantee (on their home page with links to policy and forms to fill out). One in particular is worth noting.
The King Kamehameha Courtyard Hotel in Kona is one of my favorites in the world. I live on Maui and love to visit family and friends on the big island basing at that hotel. I went to book a couple of nights, July 8-10 and was surprised at how high the prices were on the Marriott website (unusually, points were not even an option). I found a list of rates per night between $449 and $529. The best price for two nights was $898 to $1089.
I went on Kayak to see about booking the same nights. Kayak linked me to SnapTravel where I received the rate of $206 per night. I called Marriott and they told me to fill out their price guarantee form. I did. As promised, within 48 hours I received a reply. They wrote that they could not confirm a lower rate for an equivalent room could be reserved. That “…after extensive testing, we have determined this site does not accurately display rates and availability and therefore we are unable to approve your claim.”
Then they wrote:
“We are not approving claims again(sp) SnapTravel.com.”
Then it reads “Marriott reserves the right to deny a claim, if it cannot independently verify the availability of a Comparison Rate at the time it processes the claim.”
So I put my 8 year old on my IPad and he booked the reservation on Snap Travel at the King K hotel the nights reported in about 3 minutes at $206 a night. I replied to the first form letter with a copy of the booking they said they couldn’t make.
I might also point out that no where on their website or in any of their advertising which extols the benefits of booking on Marriott.com with their price guarantee, do they exclude any vendor at all and certainly not SnapTravel.com in particular.
There was then a reply to my sending a copy of the booking. “ I appreciated you taking the time to provide screenshots of the confirmation (note: I attached a pdf of the reservation, not a screenshot). While guest provided screenshots can provide valuable clues about how rates are located, the do not provide sufficient information to approve or deny claims. We must be able to independently verify the availability of the competing rate at the time we evaluate the claim.”
Apparently they need to hire more 8 year olds.
To further my understanding, they continued “…It will be helpful to know that we do have a specialized team that investigates the eligibility of the competing websites we use and this team has provided direction to us that Snap Travel is not an eligible website for us to use when processing the claims we receive. Please be advised that this is a decision made at the Corporate level and one that we must abide by for each claim using this website.”
To summarize, I saved $500 plus dollars on a two night stay by booking with Snap Travel. My reservation has been confirmed (and upgraded) by the hotel. No where on their website does Marriott exclude SnapTravel from their price guarantee. I, like many other loyal Bonvoy members, have been fleeced by their Corporate Policy. I found this a number of times driving across country in June of this year……but this was the most extreme example.
I decided to execute a Kayak search for this same hotel.
Two-night stay on Marriott’s website would set you back $1,089.97.
And the same room on an OTA is only $711.36. Marriott’s price is 53% higher.
The website, SnapTravel, that the reader refers to was unavailable on the Kayak search (OTAs shown are market-specific, and I executed the search from Austria).
The price on SnapTravel was even lower at $524.97, including all the taxes and fees. The Marriott’s price is 108% higher!
Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee Rules:
Marriott only lists the following sites ineligible for the program:
Rates on auction websites, on sites that do not disclose the hotel brand until the reservation is completed (i.e., Priceline and Hotwire), on sites that require a login or specific credit card to view or book, or on sites that don’t provide an immediate confirmation (e.g., an “on request” rate) are not accepted. Pre-paid, advance purchase, or non-refundable rates on Qunar, eLong, Meituan Travel, Ctrip/Trip.com, Ctrip/Trip.com affiliate sites, or Fliggy are not eligible. Any rates on WeChat are not eligible.
As I have said before, these Best Price Guarantee programs that all hotels offer are merely marketing promises today than genuine guarantees.
You can almost always find the same hotel at a lower price on an OTA than on branded websites.
Hoteliers believe consumers who book on their website are non-price sensitive and sticky. So why would they offer them the lowest prices?
Also, it is always easier for hotels to dump excess inventory through OTAs. Guests with previous bookings may also be agitated if the prices drop when they are tied to higher non-refundable rates.
The reader points out that the OTA, SnapTravel, is NOT listed on Marriott’s website as ineligible for the “guarantee.” I guess they don’t want to advertise websites that continuously sell their hotels at a significant discount?