In the ideal world, I would be able to pay for every hotel stay using points. In reality, this is not the case. While I do have an impressive stash of points and miles, I still need to pay for hotel rooms at least some of the time, especially when I want to stay at a particular hotel. My upcoming trip to New Orleans with my friend Ginger is one of these situations. She and I have decided that the Renaissance Arts New Orleans is our favorite hotel in the city. We love the location, the rooftop pool, and the icy fruit water they have available in the lobby. So it was important that we stay there – and only there.
I originally made a reservation for this hotel in November. Back then, the posted rate on the hotel website was a steep $249/night! But I knew we could do better than that. Before I booked the reservation, I did a quick Kayak search to see what the going rate for this hotel was on a few discount websites such as Priceline and Expedia. I learned that Expedia had the exact same room for $229/night. This was great news. However, instead of booking with Expedia, I went ahead and booked with Marriott. This may seem counterintuitive, but it was a move that saved me big money.
The Best Rate Guarantee – The Secret Weapon of the Savvy Traveler
The reason is that I took advantage of Marriott’s “Look No Further Guarantee,” which is a marketing device that I like to think of as the “secret weapon of the savvy traveler.” All of the major hotel chains have these guarantees. In the five minutes that it takes to do a quick search and fill out a short claim form, you could save hundreds of dollars (guarantees vary, and among the most lucrative is the IHG guarantee, which offers a free night if you find a lower rate elsewhere).
I submitted the claim form to Marriott, and within 24 hours, I had received this email in response:
Keep Your Mind On Your Money And Your Money On Your Mind
Fantastic! However, I had a feeling that I could do even better. I decided that I would check back in on the rates in a few months. Fast forward to yesterday. I decided to spend a few minutes to see what I could uncover. I started with the Marriott site and found that the room price had dropped to $189/night. Still pricey, and still more than what I already had locked in, but it was worth finding out if I could get a better deal. I cruised over to Kayak and searched for our hotel using the same dates…bingo! The going rate on the discount sites was $169/night.
I made a new reservation on the Marriott site (I didn’t cancel the old one, in case the BRG didn’t work out), then I submitted four claims, documenting the lower price on four different sites. The reason I did this was that the lower price has to be available on the site you submit at the time the agent checks it. I didn’t want to take the chance that inventory would be sold out, so I hedged my bets by submitting multiple claims. I just used the same reservation number for all of the claims.
This morning I got the following email:
Awesome! Not only had Marriott discounted the room from the price that I submitted ($169/night), they had honored an even lower price ($154/night), bringing the total price down to $115/night! Big thumbs up to Marriott for being so fabulous. I am a very happy customer right now. I am also very proud of myself for saving 46% off the original room price.
If you are paying cash for a hotel, it pays to do a few minutes of research before you settle on a price. Take advantage of hotel’s generous BRG policies, and check back in on the price every few weeks to see if it has dropped…you might be able to snag an even better deal.
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