The major hotel chains put 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 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 a couple of years back that hotel chains began 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. These rates are offered by Hilton, Marriott, Starwood, etc.
One of the other ways that the major hotel chains try to get you to book direct is by offering best rate guarantees. The intent is that they’ll match the rate and offer you some sort of a discount if you find a cheaper rate for a hotel than you find directly on the hotel’s website. This is a smart marketing technique, as it’s intended to reinforce the idea that you’ll always find the best rate directly on the hotel’s site.
With the increased emphasis on booking direct, logically you’d think that the major hotel chains would be improving their best rate guarantees over time, but instead we’ve seen the opposite effect, as the major hotel chains have significantly devalued their best rate guarantees over the past several years.
Hyatt has just announced the latest devaluation to their best rate guarantee, which kicks in as of July 31, 2017. Up until now, Hyatt’s best rate guarantee has offered to match the rate you find somewhere else, plus give you a 20% discount off that rate.
That’s changing, though. Going forward, Hyatt’s best rate guarantee will match the lower rate found elsewhere, plus offer a $50 credit to the guest that’s valid towards a future Hyatt stay booked on hyatt.com. The credit will be provided as a single use code within four days of checkout of the initial stay and must be used within a year of when it was issued.
Hyatt tells me the following:
This benefit will replace the current Best Rate Guarantee, which offers a 20% discount on valid lower rates found and is intended to underscore the value of booking directly with Hyatt for the best experience.
Unfortunately the effect here is the opposite. This does less to underscore the value of booking directly with Hyatt.
This represents a devaluation for most who have used the best rate guarantee. The breakeven stay cost here is $250 (not per night, but per stay), but that doesn’t account for the fact that cash in your pocket is worth more than a discount on a future stay.
While I don’t think I’ve ever used Hyatt’s best rate guarantee, this is nonetheless a disappointing change, and does the opposite of underscoring how Hyatt always has the best rates available directly on their website.