The major hotel chains want you to book directly with them, and that’s a concept they’ve been reinforcing for the past couple of years more than ever before.
Last October I wrote about how Hilton was introducing discounted rates for HHonors members in select markets. The discounts were up to 10%, and were an interesting move, which Starwood later matched.
This February Hilton expanded this program worldwide, and is even making their largest ad campaign in history around the concept. It’s called “Stop Clicking Around,” and the idea is that they’re guaranteeing the best possible rate when you book directly through them, and therefore think you shouldn’t look anywhere else.
There’s not much substance to these discounts for the savvy traveller, since in most cases savings for booking AAA rates are at least as much, if not more. But then again, when you’re booking a AAA rate you’re booking directly with the hotel, so perhaps it only drives home their point. 😉
Still, it was an interesting trend to see, and the logic behind this promotion was pretty obvious. Hotels have to pay commissions (typically 10%) when bookings are made through third party websites/travel agents, so hotels want to do everything they can do get you to book directly with them, rather than through a third party.
Well, Marriott is finally following the trend, and has just announced a similar program. Marriott’s new campaign is called “It pays to Book Direct.”
Marriott will begin offering member only rates starting on April 11, 2016, available exclusively for Marriott Rewards members booking through marriott.com, Marriott’s app, Marriott’s call center, or select corporate travel agents.
Per the press release:
Beginning in April 2016, Marriott International, Inc. is introducing Marriott Rewards Member Rates, a new rate exclusively designed to reward loyalty members who book directly on Marriott.com, our easy-to-use app, call centers or through select corporate travel professionals to automatically receive benefits. Marriott Rewards Member Rates join other member-only perks, which include loyalty points, mobile check-in and check-out, and free Wi-Fi across a diverse portfolio of brands including The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, EDITION, Marriott Hotels, Autograph Collection, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, and more.
“We’re rewarding our loyal members by providing a rate exclusively designed to show them how valuable they are to us,” said Karin Timpone, Global Marketing Officer, Marriott International. “We also want to help dispel the myth that other travel websites offer better rates for our hotels. The simple fact is that you will find the lowest rates across our portfolio when you join Marriott Rewards and book direct.”
These member rates, which are broadly available on April 11 and with a free Marriott Rewards account, are the latest perk in a series of benefits the company is rolling out to continue rewarding the loyalty of its members.
We don’t yet know how much the savings will be, though I’m guessing they’ll max out in the 5-10% range. Much like with Hilton and Starwood, I doubt there will be much substance to the savings, since the rates probably won’t be cheaper than if you book a AAA rate.
This is all part of a larger effort by the major hotel chains to get you to book direct with them. This partly started when hotels began offering complimentary wifi a while back, which was in many cases restricted to loyalty program members who booked directly with the hotel chain. For example, Marriott launched this in early 2015, and it was available exclusively to Marriott Rewards members who booked directly.
These particular “member rates” are a gimmick, given that most hotels offer AAA discounts which exceed those offered through these special rates.
Have you had any luck saving money with the member exclusive rates offered by Hilton or Starwood?