Starwood updates terms of Best Rate Guarantee

Most major hotel chains offer a “Best Rate Guarantee,” whereby they’ll guarantee that the lowest rate for their hotels can be found on their websites, and if you find a lower rate elsewhere they’ll match it and offer you some further discount or points. In the case of Starwood they match the lower rate and offer you either 2,000 bonus Starpoints or a further 10% discount.

Well, the terms and conditions page of the Starwood “Best Rate Guarantee” was revised on September 19, 2012, and I’m trying to figure out what the major changes are, since I don’t have the old terms to compare it to.

One change I notice is as follows:

Starwood will compare the total room cost of a stay, and multiple claims for a stay consisting of two or more nights in the same week at the same Starwood Hotel or Starwood Hotels in close proximity may be treated as one claim for one stay, even if booked through more than one reservation.

I don’t believe this was the case before, and it seems to suggest that you can now only file one best rate guarantee per city per week. I’m not sure how closely this will be enforced (after all they use the word “may” and not “will”), but this would be a pretty major change. I can understand that consecutive nights qualify as one stay, but two stays five days apart at different hotels in the same city do as well?

Also, I’m not sure if this is new, but I see this in the terms, which I don’t recall seeing before:

Starwood may deny claims where the difference between the Competing Rate and the rate on the Starwood Website is less than one percent.

Anyone know if that was there before? Or notice any other changes I missed?

Anyway, nothing earth shattering, though that first change is definitely major for those that frequently take advantage of the “Best Rate Guarantee.”

(Tip of the hat to Pablo)

Filed Under: SPG

Comments

  1. Doesn’t really make much sense to me why SPG would do this. If they had a policy like IHG, then I can see the reasoning (ironically, IHG just got rid of their own restriction of one claim per 30 days).

    As for the one-percent, they implemented this in the short-lived NYC Free Night BRG promo that they ran some weeks back, but I don’t think it was a rule in the general BRG program until now.

  2. Wasn’t a rule before. Don’t think it’s a big deal. I have taken frequent advantage of the SPG BRG and find it to be by far the best run rate guarantee program of any chain.

  3. The good change is they don’t force you to provide the same room benefits any more (Ex:A hotel’s standard king bed room price on SPG is 100USD, require full payment, non-refundable, and doesn’t include breakfast. But after your booking, you saw a website offering 80USD for a standard king bed room, free cancellation, free breakfast.SPG will not honor this condition before, they used to require you to provide a room with the same cancellation policy. But they do now, you can get the free cancellation and the free breakfast.

  4. “The estimated value of value-added amenities (e.g.,free breakfast, tickets, gas coupons) offered as part of a Competing Rate will be excluded from the rate comparison, and will not be provided by Starwood when honoring a lower rate.”
    Typo…you can only get the free cancellation but not the free breakfast…

  5. Certainly bad for hotel hoppers chasing elite status or a stay based promo. Not a tremendous Starwood fan and this move certainly does increase the likelihood of booking with them.

  6. Certainly these changes will affect me, needless to say, I took advantage of BRGs pretty heavily last year. 8/10 stays were BRGs and often granted to me on dollar differences. Oh well, it was good when it lasted. No more free 2000 points per stay!

  7. Quite frankly I think this BRG policy is crap. I can see cheap room rates on a website one day but by the time SPG has come back they are gone. Experienced this recently (SPG did not show rooms available, third party site did) when I filed a BRG for two nights, they came back that they would honor it but by then my plans changed and I only wanted to stay the first night and they forced me to file a new claim, which was not honored because by the time they got back it was not available on third party booking site. Am I correct that with the enforcement of the new T&C’s this would be solved as I need to only file one BRG claim and can change stay duration?

  8. Kind of odd that SPG is going backwards with their BRG program now that the competition (IHG, Choice) have been quietly beefing up their programs in the past year. SPG better be careful with the one claim per week per hotel (or nearby hotels) term as IHG had to remove time and quantity restrictions by the UK government.

    Overall not earth-shattering. SPG’s BRG program is pretty *YAWN* anyways. I’ve used it 2 or 3 times successfully myself, and it’s decent for those chasing status. IHG’s program is the best of the bunch once you master the ‘art’ of finding the free nights šŸ˜€

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