Hyatt Guts Their Best Rate Guarantee

Update: The terms of the Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee have been updated, as Hyatt’s intentions with the changes weren’t as I had interpreted. See my follow up post for more on that.

The major hotel chains have been putting a lot of effort into getting you to book directly with them rather than through online travel agencies like Orbitz, Expedia, etc. That’s because the major hotels have to pay a commission of ~10% when you book through an online travel agency, which they don’t have to pay when you book directly with them.

This is one of the main reasons that hotel chains have begun offering “members only” rates for those who book directly with them. These rates offer up to 10% off the best available rate, and are intended to get you to book with the hotel directly rather than through an OTA. We’ve seen these rates introduced lately by Hilton, MarriottStarwood, etc.

HHonors-1

Hilton even recently launched their biggest ad campaign in history dedicated to this cause, called “Stop Clicking Around.” Here’s how Hilton describes the campaign:

“Our customers don’t need to worry about sorting through a dizzying array of websites, enduring hundreds of clicks and wasting hours of time. They can be assured that booking a room directly with us at any of our hotels doesn’t require extensive searching and price checking to find the best prices online,” said Geraldine Calpin, chief marketing officer at Hilton Worldwide.

On top of that, the major hotel chains all offer best rate guarantees. The intent is that they’re guaranteeing you’ll find the lowest rate for their hotels when booking direct, in an effort to get you from booking elsewhere. If you find a lower rate elsewhere, they’ll not only match the better rate, but also give you something to sweeten the pot (either bonus points or a further discount)..

What’s puzzling — and counters the industry trend of doing everything possible to get consumers to book direct — is that Hyatt has been slowly chipping away at their Best Rate Guarantee. With Hyatt’s BRG they promise they’ll offer the best rate for their own hotels; if they don’t, they’ll match the better rate and discount it by 20%.

In the past week Hyatt has made a change to their BRG which makes it almost worthless.

Hyatt-Best-Rate-Guarantee

To demonstrate what has been changed, here’s the relevant part of the old terms:

If you find a publicly available and immediately bookable room-only rate on the Internet for a Hyatt hotel (“Competing Rate”) that is lower than the room rate available for the same reservation on http://www.hyatt.com (i.e., same hotel, same type of room, same number of guests, same dates of stay and same length of stay), then within 24 hours of booking the reservation on http://www.hyatt.com, please submit your claim request online via our online claim form.

Then here are the new terms relating to the booking requirements (bolding mine):

If you find a publicly available and immediately bookable room-only rate on the Internet for a Hyatt hotel (“Competing Rate”) that is lower than the room rate available for the same reservation and booked by you on Hyatt.com (i.e., same hotel, same type of room, same number of guests, same dates of stay, same length of stay, and same booking conditions), you can submit your claim request online via our online claim form in English (or call 1-888-96 HYATT (1-888-964-9288) or your local Hyatt reservation center to submit a claim in a language other than English). When multiple publicly available and immediately bookable room-only rates for the same hotel, same type of room, same number of guests, same dates of stay and same length of stay are available through a Hyatt website you must reserve the lowest rate to be eligible for Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee. To be eligible, you must submit your claim request within 24 hours of both booking on Hyatt.com and finding the Competing Rate.

Hyatt is now saying that only the lowest type of rate is eligible for the Best Rate Guarantee. In other words, if a hotel has a pre-paid rate, that’s the only type of rate which is eligible for a BRG. That’s ridiculous, since it means Hyatt is no longer offering a BRG on flexible rates. Many OTAs primarily offer flexible rates, so…

On top of that, keep in mind you have to book before submitting your BRG claim, so now you’ll have to book a pre-paid rate in order to even be eligible to submit a BRG claim. If it’s not approved (which often happens, since hotels find ways out), then you’re stuck with a pre-paid rate.

That sort of eliminates the peace of mind you get out of booking with Hyatt directly, since Hyatt isn’t really guaranteeing the best rate anymore.

I know there are people who use BRGs all the time. Personally I’ve never used a BRG, but I still find this change on the part of Hyatt to be really disappointing. Their BRG has been watered down to the point that I don’t know why they bother anymore.

Bottom line

I’ve always respected Hyatt for being a brand which does the right thing. Even as someone who has never used this promise, this change really makes this “guarantee” unethical, in my opinion. A majority of people want to make flexible bookings, and the Hyatt BRG no longer works for those types of bookings.

This guarantee now has more asterisks than a mail in rebate on a toaster oven…

Comments

  1. Indeed a super disappointing development. I’ve used Hyatt’s BRG frequently (only showing that there are indeed better ways to book rooms than on hyatt.com) but will definitely stop doing so from now on. As well as bring my business to other brands. I am still struggling as I really came to love GHs, PHs, and the consistent quality in most of the Regency properties but this really is a bummer

  2. This is not true. You seem to have misinterpreted.
    Kindly search rates on http://abudhabi.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html from April 22- April 24.

    You will see a rate of 1400 AED standard rate and 1520 AED Bed and Breakfast Rate.
    Both the rates are for same room type, same hotel , same number of guests, same dates of stay and same length of stay .

    The only difference is the inclusion of breakfast. Now if you get this standard room for 1520 instead of 1400, you can’t expect a Best Rate Guarantee claim

  3. Do people at Hyatt think anymore before making a decision? It seems they just through things out in the wild and then measure consequences… They went from the best BRG in the market to the WORST = NO REAL BRG pretty fast…

  4. It’s the same #%&(#&% BS that IHG is doing. They copied IHG – so in essence they have all but eliminated BRGs, but on the surface it appears like they still have the program. Smoke, and mirrors.

  5. I have recently noticed Hyatt seems to have made it more difficult to make an award reservation. I don’t have enough points currently to make a reservation in my account (I would be transferring them in) but the website won’t show me how many points are required anymore like it used to. Is anyone else noticing this?

  6. I submitted a BRG claim for my New York trip and got denied. I clearly got a lower rate not on Hyatt.com but still got denied. I will still stay with Hyatt (not on this trip) but definitely do not book through their site directly.

    The Hilton ‘stop clicking around’ doesn’t work either, I still see much lower rates through TripAdvisor, but I haven’t booked a room to submit a BRG through them.

  7. Is it possible that this is designed to, either:

    1) prevent people from booking a cancel-eligible rate from Hyatt, then request a BRG to a OTA prepaid rate?

    Or

    2) prevent people from booking a higher price basic room (often high floor is a few bucks more, similar with view), then BRG to a site that doesn’t offer a price differential for the same room in different locations (floor, view, etc)

    A note on ‘view’ – I’ve stayed at a lot of Regencies that offer a price difference on views in metropolitan cities (Boston and DC come to mind). Regardless you end up facing the tops of other buildings and the sides of parking garages, so a ‘view’ premium in non-beach or non-attraction properties seems silly.

  8. Oddly enough it doesn’t actually say you need to book a prepaid rate, it says that you need to book the lowest rate available on the website. While that isn’t that much of a distinction, those two don’t always overlap. Reading!

  9. While I have not had a BRG on Hyatt, I did make a claim on Hilton that was ridiculous. They lowered the rate by less than $3, so I ended up canceling the Hilton reservation and booked on the third party website saving over $100 at the hotel. My conclusion, the Stop Clicking Around campaign is a failure.

  10. I seem to remember having read this same story over and over again lately:

    (name of rewards program) guts their award program….. 🙁

  11. Online travel agencies (OTA) actually take 15-30% of the room rate as their margin (commission). Traditional travel agents booking through GDS take 10%.

  12. Thanks for covering this. As someone who has no access to MS, as I live in Australia, the Hyatt prices outside of the US are super high already. And when they offload their rooms to 3rd party OTA’s at lower prices but still insist that the hyatt.com price is the best, my only alternative was to use their BRG if I wanted to earn stay credit, but now they’ve closed that. RIP Hyatt, I’m heading over to Hilton.

  13. I’ve noticed for a while now that if you book online through Hyatt you aren’t getting any different rate than if you book through anyone else. You used to see that, but it’s changed over the last two years. And the lowest rate is the non-refundable rate. Sorry, but I feel like if you’re a gold passport member with Platinum or Diamond Status then there should be no non-refundable rate. If I were running the business I would give you the best base rate – not including breakfast or romance packages, etc.. (unless of course, you were Diamond level for the breakfast). They know what level you are and can figure out a way to offer you the best rate and make it non-refundable. That would drive more loyalty to your brand.

  14. I spoke with Service Desk at Hyatt BRG just a few days ago and i was instructed i had to book the lowest “cancellable” rate on Hyatt.com in order to submit a claim. They denied the claim because the lower rate was offered by a company that does not offer immediately confirmed reservation, which was not correct. I got an immediately confirmed reservation on the other site and i kept it since the price was more than $100 lower. Needless to say I cancelled the reservation i made on Hyatt.com.

  15. after reading this, I cancelled all my direct booking through hyatt. then I book via hotels.com and get my rewards night, faster and more reasonable. 10nights I get 10% worth of my stays award night. hyatt? lol such a joke.

  16. We actually booked a PRE-PAID room on Expedia and submitted the claim. Hyatt still denied it. It doesn’t matter what you do, it will be denied. Every, Single. Time.

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