Is Hilton Diamond Reservation Guarantee Worthless?

Most hotel chains offer their top tier elite members a “reservation guarantee.” Basically as long as you book a few days in advance (typically at least 48-72 hours before arrival), you’re guaranteed a room. At least in theory that’s what the guarantee looks like.

Hilton-Diamond-Guarantee

Now, this isn’t something I’ve taken advantage of up until now, given that they’ll charge you the rack rate if you make a booking under the guarantee. Since my travel schedule is usually pretty flexible, I have no reason to pay a fortune for a reservation guarantee when I could otherwise just reschedule my travel and use points.

The catch with these guarantees is that the hotel chains always have an “out.” What’s interesting is how the fine print differs between chains when it comes to this guarantee.

Hilton’s Diamond Reservation Guarantee has the following terms:

The Diamond Reservations Guarantee allows Diamond members to place a guaranteed reservation at a sold out hotel when made 48 hours prior to arrival, except during Extraordinary Demand Date periods, when the hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by more than 10%, and for some hotels when the hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by more than 2%. See Terms & Conditions for details.

Hyatt’s Diamond 48-Hour Guarantee has the following terms:

Guarantee valid for one standard guestroom when paying the hotel’s Hyatt Daily Rate. Not valid at Hyatt resorts, Hyatt Zilara and Hyatt Ziva properties, Hyatt Residence Club resorts, or during extraordinary room demand.

IHG Rewards Club’s Platinum Guaranteed Room Availability has the following terms:

Requires 72 hours advance notice. Platinum Elite members are guaranteed one guest room for personal use for reservations made at least 72 hours prior to the date of arrival, except during special events that result in extraordinary demand, as determined solely by the hotel. Guaranteed room availability is not valid for Reward Nights. These reservations can only be made through the IHG® Rewards Club Service Center.

Marriott’s Platinum 48-Hour Guaranteed Availability has the following terms:

Traveling on short notice? We guarantee you’ll always have a room for any paid stay. Just make a reservation at least 48 hours before arrival at any of our 3,700+ participating hotels (Excluding Marriott Vacation Club. At Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites, applies to Studios only.) This offer may not be available during certain limited dates or special events, so be sure to check on this when you book.

Starwood’s Platinum Guaranteed Room Availability has the following terms:

Applicable to one standard room booked by 3 p.m. local time 72+ hours before day of arrival at participating hotels. Member must pay regular RACK rate. Black out dates apply. Not available at resorts. Room upgrade and Free Night Award redemption do not apply when this benefit is utilized. Minimum length-of-stay requirement must be met.

As you can see, while the way they phrase the restrictions differs by chain, these aren’t actually guarantees:

  • Not available if the hotel is overbooked by 2-10%
  • Not valid during periods of extraordinary room demand
  • Not available during certain limited dates or special events
  • Blackout dates apply

And I get the need for “outs.” During the World Cup, Super Bowl, etc., I can totally see the need for these restrictions. But what about during somewhat smaller events?

I’m not trying to pick on Hilton specifically here, because I’m guessing the policy is the same for every chain, but I’ve finally tried to exercise this guarantee for the first time. As you guys know, I’m taking my dad on a big round the world trip in a few months, and I thought I had all the details ironed out. I finally figured out a way to get down to Queenstown for a few days without it being too much of a hassle. It’s something I really want to do, because all the other destinations we’re visiting during this trip are big cities.

The only problem is that the Hilton is sold out for one of those nights. Most of the other hotels seem to be sold out as well, as it seems that the Queenstown Marathon is that weekend. In the case of Hilton specifically, I find it interesting that they claim that the guarantee doesn’t apply anymore when hotels are overbooked between 2% and 10%. Now I’m no expert on hotel inventory management, but I would assume that hotels are ordinarily overselling by somewhere in the range of 2-10%, especially months in advance when there could still be lots of cancellations.

Hotel Exterior

Based on that it sure seems like a hotel might be oversold by somewhere between 2% and 10% and still be selling one more room to the general public, and then once that room is sold, there are no rooms for sale regardless of whether you’re exercising a guarantee or not. In other words, I have to wonder whether hotels are actually allocating any inventory to this “guarantee.”

From the hotel’s perspective I can’t blame them if they’re not. The individual hotel doesn’t really have a reason to care who books that last room. If anything they might prefer a non-elite, because there are fewer complimentary benefits they have to offer them.

Anyway, it is what it is and there’s nothing I can do about it. But I figured I’d share my experience since this is my first time trying to use the guarantee. I figured it wouldn’t work during New Years Eve in Sydney, at the World Cup, Super Bowl, etc., but it seems that it’s even more restrictive than that.

To anyone that has used one of those guarantees before, have you actually found them to be useful, or more of a gimmick?

Comments

  1. The only time that I found the Hilton Diamond guarantee useful was for award stays. Let’s say you wanted to stay a week somewhere on points but for 1 or 2 of your days the hotel was showing no availability. The Diamond line would just call the hotel and force the dates to be freed up in the system so you could make your award reservation. But I think they stopped doing it around the time of the devaluation over a year ago.

  2. Never used the Hilton guarantee – the only time I tried to use it, they claimed the “Extraordinary Demand” exception, and then a room opened up a few days later on the website anyway. I’ve also been able to get Hiltons that I had extensive local dealings with to oversell for me on request (but that service is what $1m+ of business annually to a single property should buy!).

    I have however used the IHG guarantee in Istanbul (for the CP Istanbul Harbiye which was very near the offices I was visiting) a few years ago. I basically called and told them what I wanted, the associate said she would forward the request to the hotel (the oversale has to be done by the hotel on request of IHG rather than directly by customer with hotel or customer with central reservations). A few hours later she called back to confirm the reservation and the rate (average of the Best Available Rate for previous and next dates of the sold out date). Hotel then upgraded me to a lovely room at check-in (there was some UN conference in town and all the hotels were overrun with delegates) and no problems ensued.

    So yeah, the guarantees are useful if they suit your circumstances but the cop-out clause does dilute them a bit.

  3. I;m Diamond at Hilton and Platinum Plus with IHG for about nine years in the row. I could NEVER use this guarantee due to the the outrages price they charge for the room under this guarantee.
    You know when you are in a hotel and by law they place a note on the door inside in the room, the max price they can charge for that room? Like sticker on door says $1200 in a RedRoof Inn room. lol (Another worthless law). So I’m not going to pay that rate just because it is “guaranteed” . I go to another chain. There is always a room somewhere at last minute. At least in the past nine years, I always found one.

  4. I still don’t understand why Delta partnered with Starwood. Hilton would be the perfect match for Delta. They deserve each other.

  5. I’ve used the Hilton one many times. When you need to be somewhere last minute and things are sold out, it’s handy – especially in small towns when your choices are limited. They never have said no.

  6. I’m a Hilton Diamond, and it is not at all unusual for me to find different space available depending on whether or not I am signed into my account. We have a 6 night award stay in Albany, NY in March. Now, all we could get was an accessible room, but that is better than no room at all. But until I signed into my account, there were no rooms available.

  7. I’ve had to use the Hilton diamond guarantee multiple times. Our work location is often sold out and the diamond guarantee has always worked for me. Extremely handy for when I’ve procrastinated or made a late reservation or if my plans changed and I have to book it last minute. And the city I need to stay -it seems if there is not a Hilton property room available there’s usually not another hotel rooms available …at least at hotel I would consider staying in. So the diamond guarantee has worked in my case and I appreciate it.

  8. I’m confused here. There’s a special event in the town you want to stay at which according to what you posted makes every one of the chains not have to honor their guaranteed availability policy but only Hilton is “worthless”? Just curious did you try using the guarantee with the Crown Plaza to compare if IHG is similarly “worthless”?

  9. @ omatravel — I think I made it very clear I wasn’t picking on Hilton specifically: “I’m not trying to pick on Hilton specifically here, because I’m guessing the policy is the same for every chain, but I’ve finally tried to exercise this guarantee for the first time.”

    Simply sharing my experience with them since it was my first time.

  10. The why does the article headline read “Is Hilton Diamond Reservation Guarantee Worthless?” instead of “Are hotel elite reservation guarantees worthless?”

    Placing “I’m not trying to pick on Hilton specifically here, because I’m guessing the policy is the same for every chain, but I’ve finally tried to exercise this guarantee for the first time.” in a paragraph 1/2 way through the article does not make it “very clear”, if you wanted to make it very clear you would have opened the post with it.

  11. It would be cool if you tried all the chains to see who actually delivers. The one time I tried it at Hyatt, I was denied. At least Hyatt shows Dia Guar Avail online

  12. I recently tried to use the Hilton Diamond Guarantee at the Conrad Punta del Este, Uruguay and reservations aid it was oversold by 6%. I escalated the call to a manager and she told me she couldn’t force the reservation. I inquired into the reason and she said the hotel had blocked inventory for a hotel event. You look online, and the entire month is “sold out.’ I called the hotel and asked if they had any rooms and there was availability and I got the room–of course at rack rate. I feel like the hotel is playing games with the inventory. I actually called back on 3 separate occasions to modify the reservation and each time, no issues. Hmmmm.

  13. I recently noticed, when trying to book a night at a Hilton property that the diamond benefit can be booked directly online if the hotel makes it available. Interesting thing was that it was available for a few days, and then disappeared and the property now shows no availability. I haven’t tried calling as I was just trying to get a sense of the inventory and room types for a stay I have coming up – but interesting to see it change.

  14. I’ve tried using this Hilton Diamond benefit a number of times. There has not been one instance in which Hilton has honored the request. The ‘guarantee’ is, in essence, an empty promise.

  15. Seems that the only relevant part of the “guarantee” is that over a certain booking percentage the hotel promises to charge rack rates exclusively. The part of the promise that indicates a room will be available only applies to situations when there are no high volume and/or high revenue events going on, which makes that part of the guarantee completely irrelevant. Seems to be rather pervasive but largely useless promise that only helps in the most curious of circumstances.

  16. I had a recent experience with SPG on this policy. I am a Platinum Ambassador guest with SPG. I was going to Lisbon and booked the trip months ahead. I did not bother to check rooms as who thought there could be something big going on there. 60 days before the trip I could not find a room anywhere to save my life. When i contacted my ambassador to exercise this policy, I was told they could not accommodate me. It happens that I decided to come during the UEFA Championship game. And this is considered a special event. Therefore they do not follow this policy. Annoying!

  17. Hilton properties are given an opportunity once a year to specify extraordinary demand dates for the coming year, and they are discussed with someone at Hilton Corporate as part of this process. I think it’s a fair deal…

    When you consider Hilton’s walk policy for diamonds (which requires a $100 or $200 cash payment), not having exceptions for the Diamond force would create all sorts of issues. Imagine if you had 1,000 Diamond members try to reserve a room on New Year’s Eve at a property with only 350 rooms? They’d have to walk 650 Diamond members.

    I’ve used the guarantee several times without issue. The only time I was told I couldn’t use it was when the Diamond Force rate was $2,000 and I was trying to use a BMG certificate. A property a few miles away had a more reasonable rate ($199), so I used my BMG certificate there instead.

  18. I’ve used this Hilton benefit several times at the Hampton Inn at Washington National Airport. The rack rate there isn’t that bad ($200ish) compared to hotel properties in the area.

    I attempted to use the same Hyatt benefit recently without success (thanks to Lucky’s advice I did the Hyatt challenge so I have top tier status with them now too). I attempted to book the Boston Hyatt Regency as it was showing sold out. Interestingly enough, while I had zero luck with my own Hyatt credentials, when I attempted to book a normal room there using my state’s government travel agency, I was able to secure one! Go figure!

  19. My husband and I stayed at this property last fall. We had some problems there and discovered that it was only “managed” by Hilton but not owned by them. Perhaps that is why they’re not honoring it. We haven’t had problems with a Diamond override otherwise.

  20. Maybe time for Airbnb? The “Hylton” has some good reviews 🙂 Just watch out for “additional prices”.

  21. @ Ally Watrous — Interesting. For what it’s worth, a vast majority of properties are only managed by Hilton and not actually owned by them.

  22. I wrote recently that St. Louis was “sold out” due to all of the points & miles marathoners booking flights and rooms for a marathon in that fine city – http://threadtripping.boardingarea.com/2014/07/whose-booking-flights-st-louis/.

    But I thought it was a joke. Ridiculous. Couldn’t be true. Now Queenstown too!

    These damn marathoners are ruining it for the rest of us sane people who understand that points and miles are to be used for trips that are spent eating lavishly and lounging around as much as possible. They are “points” and “miles” – they aren’t pieces of exercise equipment for God’s sake!

    Personally, I blame the “running” bloggers.

  23. I recently used the “guarantee” successfully at the Sheraton Brookfield Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All three SPG hotels in Milwaukee were sold out (along with every other major chain) due to a major music festival, and the Platinum rep I spoke with confirmed that I could use the guarantee at all three hotels. I chose the Sheraton Brookfield since it had the least egregious Rack rate… $300ish, as opposed to the Four Points ($400ish) and the Aloft ($600ish).

  24. It is worthless. I just tried to apply it again and they weaseled out as expected. Everything from Hilton that contains the word ‘Guarantee’ is a total fraud.

  25. Lucky,
    Do you know if it is possible or if anyone has been successful in booking a Hilton Diamond Guarantee rate and adding someone else to the reservation? The Diamond member booking for someone else in other words.
    Doug

  26. The amount of speculation in this entire comment list is astounding. I rarely get the chance to call Hilton Diamond members out on their shit, simply because i work at a Hilton property, but I’m about to here. The vast majority of Diamond members under the Hilton umbrella rarely earn their status legitimately. I’m sure there are some rare cases out there who do actually travel and pay for their own rooms, but when your company is paying for, or reimbursing you for your room stay ( Goverment employess, direct bills, corporate contracts) your status as a Diamond member holds very little weight in my eyes. Thats not to say that I treat people poorly. I treat people how they treat me. If you’re a dick to me, i’ll do the bare minimum to assist you. Bad behavior has turned into a weapon to force business to cater to every single demand, no matter how ridiculous that demand may be.

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