A LoyaltyLobby reader sent us an email about an annoying experience with Hilton’s Best Rate Guarantee that refuses to match the significantly lower rate found on Booking.com.
You can access Hilton’s page for Best Rate Guarantee here.
READ MORE: Hilton Honors Rate & Bonus Points Offers
Email From The Reader:
Let me share the story of how Hilton using cheap trick to avoid giving best rate guarantee to the clients when it’s clear as day they are suppose to.
I booked 3 nights at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel New York Times Square West during Feb, 24-27. Under semi-flex rate the amount come out before tax is 395.92 USD in total.
I notice soon after, that the rate from booking.com website is way much cheaper. The same semi-flex rate is only 281 USD before tax.
Hence I submit the best rate cliam via their link and to my surprise they refuse to commit to honor the rate under the reason that the cancellation policy is not the same.
From hilton website, I can cancel up to 5 days in advance for free.
‘If you wish to cancel, please do by 11:59 p.m. on Feb-19-2023, to avoid cancellation penalty equal to the first night’s room and tax.’
However, booking.com is too generous and give me cancellation date untill 11.59 p.m on Feb-20-2023. They use this trick, saying the the condition ‘is not the same’ and they can not honor better rate for me.
The whole point of having ‘BEST RATE GUARANTEE PROGRAM’ is to pursuade clients to book direct with hotel and not through 3rd party where they need to pay commission for. But what they did is eat their own policy and basically ask me to book via 3rd party website instead.
Now, if we think things through, the booking.com website offer cheaper rate AND better cancellation policy. There is no reason for Hilton to refuse to honor me the price in this case. If it’s the other way around, Hilton is giving untill 20 and booking.com is giving only 19 I will understand their cliam on this matter.
I send screecap of booking.com back to the agent and ask they to use logic to think if it’s reasonable. What I got in return is a standard email asking me to submitt the cliam through their link (which I did from the begining) and ask me not to send screen cap ( which I sent to explain to agent why their action is not senseible) and also repeat the word ‘condition have to be the same’
They pretend to not read the whole email, not answering me the question of their action that seem not making senses. I notice that they did this a lot lately, hoping for clients to fed up enough. And eventually clients will give up sending email or contact them and just admit their fates.
I have long said that these Best Rate Guarantees, not only Hilton’s, are marketing slogans today rather than genuine programs to match lower prices found on 3rd party websites.
You can almost always find significantly lower prices on third-party websites that these “guarantees” won’t match due to all the small print involved.
As the reader here found out, Hilton won’t match the lower price on Booking.com because it offers a better cancellation policy than the one on its own branded website. Isn’t this insanity?
If you look at the price on the Booking.com website, it says that they have applied a 15% Genius Discount (Booking.com’s own “program”). So they could have denied this claim on this ground too.
You should always see what prices these third-party sites return WITHOUT being signed in.
Recent Marriott Best Price Experience:
For these Best Rate Guarantees to work as intended, they should only compare total prices on third-party and branded websites for the same room and nothing else.
It is too easy for hotels to ensure that customers cannot match if they load a deal or price on a discounter with a slightly different cancellation or other policy.
The only BRG program that worked well, and I didn’t feel that they were trying to screw me was the one that Starwood had. They also tended to reply fast.
I have also found out that many large corporations believe that their most frequent customers (elite members) are sticky and their business is taken for granted. So why offer them the lowest prices, best benefits, or promotions if they hand you the money anyway?
If you can find a significantly lower rate on a third-party site at a property where elite benefits would be negligible, you should book the lower rate and be done with it. These chains won’t change their policies until many members book through OTAs with a lower-priced inventory.