IHG Makes Major Changes To Their Best Rate Guarantee

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 few years back many hotel brands introduced “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.

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 better rate that you find elsewhere and offer you some sort of a discount. This is a smart marketing technique, as it’s intended to reinforce the idea that you’ll always find the best rate when booking directly on the hotel’s site.

Now, it’s clear that hotels use this more as a marketing technique than actually intending people to consistently take advantage of it. The idea is that if someone booking a hotel sees that the hotel offers a best rate guarantee, they just assume they’ll get the best deal when booking direct.

However, in reality this has been an opportunity many people have taken advantage of to consistently score deals on hotel stays, since often slightly better rates are available elsewhere. So we’ve seen a trend whereby many hotels have devalued their best rate guarantees. Up until now, IHG has really offered the best guarantee of any hotel group — they’d offer you the first night of your stay free if you found a better rate elsewhere. For a one night stay, that meant you could stay for free.

Well, IHG has modified their best rate guaranteenow IHG’s best rate guarantee offers to match the price you find elsewhere and give you 5x the IHG Rewards Club points for successful claims, up to a maximum of 40,000 bonus points.

At most brands, IHG Rewards Club members earn 10 points per dollar spent, meaning you’d get an extra 40 points per dollar spent, for up to a maximum of $1,000 of spend. I value IHG points at about half a cent each, so that’s like the equivalent of getting 20% of your rate back in the form of points.

That’s still better than nothing, but certainly not nearly as generous in a vast majority of cases as the old policy.

Ultimately I’m not surprised to see this change. The biggest benefit IHG gets from a best rate guarantee is just the peace of mind of those booking with them. They don’t actually want people to take advantage of it, and they assume that most people aren’t looking at the details of the claims, etc. I suspect it was a very small percentage of guests making a vast majority of claims, so they decided that no longer made sense.

Of course that’s bad for those who benefited from this, but I see where they’re coming from.

Did you ever file an IHG best rate guarantee claim?

(Tip of the hat to YHBU)

Comments

  1. Smart move from IHG. Many ultra cheap folks and backpackers would spend hours to game the system and enjoy a free night.

    By the way when will Airlines forbid NOISY kids in business class? Parents who fly with noisy kids in business are a real Pain in the A**

  2. Hey,
    had one valid claim for Holiday Inn Hamburg last year. That is the only one I got approved. Many of the claims that I did where rejected for no reason at all. Therefore the guarantee did not help much in many instances because most often they find a tricky reason to deny the claims. Still this was a nice guarantee for some.

  3. I have also had a handfull of claims rejected by IHG. I know some people have had success with the free night, but I never had, so maybe this means they will be more generous? Probably not…

    Also, @brexiter seems cranky…I have had more people like him disrupt business class than kiddos 🙂

  4. I had several successful claims. but I don’t think that many people used it. at almost every hotel I called to verify and they said they had never seen anything like that before – apparently IHG sent them a fax explaining the program and with the details of the claim.

  5. How good a BRG program is doen’t lie in the marketing claims but in the actual handling of such claims. AFAIK not many casual BRG submitters had great success with IHG. So it’s not like they are taking away a benefit from many people…

    @brexiter get rich and fly first class or better a private jet.

  6. I know a guy who did over 100 of these.

    I had a very pleasant night in a Junior Suite at LeGrand on one, with my friend in another JS! That was even better because the hotel pushed back against agreeing it (despite still being corporately owned at that point) so IHG told us to pay cash on departure and they would reimburse us. Which they did, and as we paid we got the points as well ….

    When they started it was easy pickings as IHG’s controls had been so lax. They basically used us to flag up the hotels who were being naughty and now the job is done.

  7. IHG’s BRG didn’t honor a claim for a lower refundable room rate found on TravelZoo because the TravelZoo rate included options a restaurant and spa discount and of course IHG’s own rates did not. The TravelZoo rate was considered to be a package and not valid for the rate guarantee, even though IHG also offered its own packages at this particular hotel.

  8. The change seems reasonable to me.

    I’m with Brexiter.
    NOISY children should not be in business class.

    I recently flew Shanghai to Vancouver in Biz
    3 children were running around, screaming, singing, fighting, climbing on the furniture, falling off and crying some more… for 7 hours. But mostly they fought and screamed and hit each other and screamed. Finally they fell asleep
    I was very tempted to make a ton of noise and wake them up

    We were exhausted in part because we were connecting from BKK

    They ruined my flight. I feel like paying thousands of dollars a ticket should be enough to escape that hell.

    The flight attendants simply said “they are kids, what can we do?”

    I LOVE kids
    But not on a TPAC flight when I’ve been awake for nearly 24 hrs

  9. I did a successful claim with Marriott earlier this year. I got the lowest rate minus 25%, which means it was a really good deal (it was a brand new hotel too).

    I did already have a booking through booking.com when I discovered Marriott’s policy and the lower rate for the exact same room. All I had to do was book the room through Marriott, cancel the booking.com reservation and fill out a form. Within 24 hours, everything was taken care of.

  10. @Chris: Those disruptive adults behave the same way when they were minors. Everything starts at home. If parents fail to guide and discipline their kids by age 8, it looks pretty much hopeless and we, as the society, will bear the wrath. Parents should drive their kids and not expose the public to their outbursts. Grandparents want to see their grand kids then buy grandparents air tickets to see them. I did not take my kid travel on plane or dine out when she was younger than four. The problem is that many parents tend to view their kids as saints, angels and geniuses. Yes, they pay for their kids seats but we all do and our kids do not behave unruly.

  11. Unfortunately, I have twice tried to get them to honor the best price guarantee and twice they ignored me. Of course, it irritated me as I am a Spire Elite member and they should be paying attention to me. So I have kind of ignored subsequent situations.
    Thanks!

  12. I really wish I knew about the old policy! I’ve NEVER seen it mentioned here, and it was a true gem. I would have had so many uses of it!

  13. Where are the parents of these noisy children? I would never expect a FA to do something, but I would expect a parent to do something about it. I would ask the parent to either get control and switch with “quiet” people in coach.

  14. @ JRMW: I had a similar, most unfortunate experience on Virgin America last year. Upper Class, so it should have been a pleasant flight. The outbound flight was great, FAs were some of the best I’ve had in years. The return flight was hell.

    It was obvious the grandparents had bought their children & grandchildren tickets to Orlando. Their adult children obviously hadn’t as this was their first flight EVAR! They thought the entire UC cabin was their living room and were yelling from row to row throughout the flight. Bare feet were everywhere, even in the lav. GROSS. The children weren’t much better behaved, with the ~8-~12 year olds crawling across the rows, constantly shrieking, and plenty of “mummy! mummy! mummy! mummy! mummy! mummy!mummy! mummy! mummy!mummy! mummy! mummy!mummy! mummy! mummy!mummy! mummy! mummy!mummy! mummy! mummy!” Sadly, the best behaved of the bunch was a baby who had a fever.

    When the FA asked if she could get me anything, I asked for the fasten seat belt sign to be turned on so that the brats and their children would sit down for awhile and hopefully quiet down.

    The FAs refused to do anything and said it was much quieter in ECONOMY and said we might be able to find some empty seats there. Absolutely ridiculous. I did get my revenge though — I gave my fruit to the one child for their backpack as we were leaving the aircraft. They got to play with the nice USDA beagle for awhile.

  15. Kind of late to the party. I had an unsuccessful BRG claim a few years ago and I wasn’t even trying to game the system. (Not judging those who do.) The claim was denied because it took them nearly two days to get tomy claim.

    I canceled the room and swore I would never stay at an IGH property again until they changed their policy.

    I guess I can consider them again.

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