On Tuesday I posted about how Hilton introduced exclusive rates for HHonors members, whereby you can receive up to 10% off the best available rate.
As of now the promotion is only available in select markets, including New York, Miami, Houston, and San Diego. The intention here is simple — hotels want you to book directly with them, so they don’t have to pay travel agents a commission, which are typically 10%, and sometimes even more than that.
That’s the same reason Hilton introduced free wifi earlier in the year, but only for members who book directly with Hilton. The more they can do to incentivize you to book directly with them, the more revenue stays in their pockets.
Anyway, I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise that other hotels are following, but Starwood has just announced Exclusive Rates for SPG members. Through this offering you can save up to 10% on their lowest rates at select hotels, and you’ll still earn Starpoints as usual, and also receive free in-room internet for booking directly through SPG.
Much like with Hilton, this is designed to get you to book directly with Starwood, rather than through a third party.
The good news is that there are tons of hotels which are eligible — lots more than through Hilton’s current offering. Starwood has hotels in over a dozen countries participating, and in the US, for example, there are hundreds of hotels which are eligible.
The bad news is that they come with tons of restrictions. Many of the discounts are only for 5%, and many have day of week restrictions.
The catch is that in most cases the discount isn’t actually that good of a deal. For example, take a look at rates at the Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Airport hotel. The discount is 5% off the pre-paid rate, as opposed to offering a discount on the refundable rate (as Hilton is doing).
In this case the flexible rate is $141, the (refundable) AAA rate is $134, and the Member Exclusive rate is $132.
Personally I’d book the AAA rate for $2 more so the stay is refundable.
To the average member those will seem like nice discounts, and at least the concept of it will probably encourage people to book directly with SPG. That being said, for anyone savvy enough to use a AAA rate instead, that will almost always end up being a better option.
Still, it’s interesting to see hotels make further efforts to try and get you to book directly with them.
Up until now the only time I’ve seen a “member only” rate be worth it is with Hyatt’s “My Elite Rate,” which offered a 20% discount on the “Hyatt Daily Rate,” and was fully refundable. It was offered in 2014, but unfortunately it was discontinued.
Do you see any value in these Member Exclusive rates?
(Tip of the hat to Mike)