Andaz West Hollywood – Los Angeles
Next Friday, I am going to LA to “pre-game” the Domestic leg of the Star Mega DO 4. As I talked about last week in my post about Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee (BRG), I submitted a successful BRG claim at the Hyatt Regency Century City. That BRG got the rate down from $309 a night to $215 a night, which is a huge discount of 30% but the stay will still end up costing me a total of $747 for 3 nights.
Being trapped inside for the last 4 days due to Hurricane Sandy, I have been checking Kayak.com for any better deals at Hyatt because I don’t really want to spend $747 on a Hotel, regardless of how many points I might earn.
While searching Kayak.com, the Andaz West Hollywood kept teasing me by showing there was a price glitch, but in reality the glitch was Hyatt.com had the lowest rate and Kayak’s rate was higher.
Although I travel a fair bit, I still do live vicariously through Lucky and his massive Trip Report Index. I remember reading his Trip Report about the Andaz West Hollywood, as well at The Points Guy’s Review. I figure you only live once, so I might as well suck it up and stay at the Andaz West Hollywood.
My Friend has 2 Free Nights from signing up for the Hyatt Visa from Chase (which is still available), but I decided we should save those for some other Hyatt that is more out of our price range.
Anyways, I ultimately decided on staying at the Andaz West Hollywood but didn’t really want to pay the $250 Hyatt was asking for, so I decided to dig a bit and see if I could find a BRG.
I searched Kayak.com, but came up empty handed. I almost gave up but then remembered one of my favorite tricks to get a successful Best Rate Guarantee….use a non-US based Travel Website. The reason for this is because foreign sites always goof up the pricing due to the currency conversion. Almost always you will find a pricing error if you search enough foreign sites.
The only reason I don’t talk about this trick or even bother with it is because Hotels are really picky about foreign sites. When you normally submit a Best Rate Guarantee form online, the Hotel will deny your claim for some ridiculous reason like they can’t convert Euros into Dollars, or something else dumb. Since you are submitting the form online, once you get denied, there is no way to convince them otherwise.
Then of course, I discovered Hyatt’s Best Rate Guarantee and the fact that you can call in the BRG and walk them through the entire process!
How To Do A Best Rate Guarantee Using Foreign Travel Sites
1. Go to Kayak.co.uk
I have found Kayak.co.uk to be the best way to search Foreign Travel Sites. Similar to Kayak.com, Kayak.co.uk will point out if there is a pricing discrepancy! While it seems silly that you are searching a European website for a Hotel in the United States, I assure you this is the easiest way to find a pricing discrepancy.
So on Kayak.co.uk, I searched for Andaz West Hollywood and it came up as £141 a night at Olotels.com, while Hyatt.com was showing £178.
Currently 1 British Pound Sterling is worth $1.61 USD. I typically just plug whatever I see on Kayak.co.uk into Google and add “GBP” after it, and Google will auto convert the amount to USD. So in this case, Olotels.com’s 141 GBP = 227.72 USD and Hyatt.com’s 178 GBP = 287 USD, a difference of about $60.
The interesting thing is that all rates on Kayak.co.uk include Tax, so that is the final price per a night.
2. Call Up Hyatt At 1-888-964-9288
I originally thought you first had to make your booking at Hyatt.com before you could make a Best Rate Guarantee claim, however that IS NOT the case. If you find a cheaper rate online, you can call Hyatt first, have them verify the BRG and then Hyatt will book your new lower rate over the phone.
The reason why this is important because typically BRG’s are only valid on the lowest rate available at the Hotel, which are usually pre-paid and non refundable. Those are the rates you want to avoid because if your BRG is denied for some reason, you are stuck with the higher rate Hotel! Therefore it is better to call Hyatt first and have them verify the BRG before you book a non-refundable rate.
3. Walk Them Through The Process
The reason I previously said that Hyatt is my new favorite Best Rate Guarantee is because you can do the BRG over the phone and it seems that anything goes with them, as you will see below…
So in my case, Olotels.com was showing the lowest rate as 227.72 USD a night. The only issue with BRGs, is that to be valid, they typically have to line up identically with the Hotel’s website. If anything like the cancellation policy, tax, room description, type of bed, etc is off from the Hotel’s official website, then typically your BRG will get denied.
Below is the screenshot from Olotels.com. As you can see it say Double Room, and the Tax is included in the rate. Although you can’t see the rest of the page, the Room is semi-refundable if canceled before a certain date.
Whereas on Hyatt.com, the lowest rate is 100% non-refundable and pre-paid. Additionally the lowest rate is for a Andaz King room (not a double room) and the Tax is calculated separately.
Normally these types of discrepancies would be grounds for not validating the BRG even though obviously the rate on Olotels.com is significantly lower. In the event the BRG was denied, I could potentially just book the lower rate at Olotels.com, but because the reservations wasn’t booked at Hyatt.com, I wouldn’t earn any Hyatt Points or Elite Stay Credit.
Thankfully, you can simply call Hyatt and be on the phone with them while they verify the BRG. I thought I was going to have to argue this one out, but the Agent never questioned the Olotels.com rate. Once the BRG was verified, the Hyatt Agent made my Andaz reservation over the phone with the new lower rate. The best part is that even though the lowest rate on Hyatt.com was a pre-paid rate, the Hyatt Agent made my Andaz reservation fully refundable!
Although there are some instances (as you will see below) that I am given somewhat preferential treatment because I am a Blogger, in this case there was no way Hyatt knew that, so this BRG process is something anyone can do.
After I was booked at the Andaz, I got my Hyatt reservation via Email. From the original rate of $286 (including tax) a night at Hyatt.com, my rate was matched to Olotels.com’s rate of $226 (including tax) a night, plus an additional 20% off. However because the tax was included in the Olotels.com rate, Hyatt subtracted out the 14% tax on the $226 rate (taking it down to $194) and then took 20% off, which is awesome!
So my final rate pre-tax is now $155 a night, so in total my 2 night stay at Andaz West Hollywood will cost around $355 (after-tax)!
So basically I got a discount of around $217 after tax ($572 – $355) or a whopping 38% discount.
The best part about all of this is that my free Hyatt Diamond status from the Star Mega DO 4 posted this morning. So I went ahead and called in and used a Confirmed Suite Upgrade which got me bumped to an Andaz King Suite!
Even though I got a discounted rate via the Best Rate Guarantee, I am still eligible to earn Hyatt Points on my stay. I haven’t calculated exactly how many Hyatt Points I will earn but it will be significant because I’ll get a Hyatt Diamond Bonus, SMD4 Bonus, Hyatt 4th Quarter Promotion Bonus, and 5x Points from my Bluebird Card!
Basically this all goes to show if you spend some time, you can save some serious money with Best Rate Guarantees. All in all, from finding the BRG rate on Olotels.com and calling it in to Hyatt, it took about 25 minutes.
Radisson LAX – Los Angeles
Originally, I was just going to do 3 nights at Hyatt Regency Century City in Los Angeles, but then I remembered the Radisson Stay 1 Night, Get 1 Night promotion so I figured I might as well get another free night.
Our flight gets in to LAX at 9:30PM Friday night and there is a Radisson right near the Airport. Given that we will probably just go to bed, it doesn’t matter where we are staying for the night.
After I figured out what a great deal Olotels.com is for BRGs and got my Hyatt BRG approved, I decided to try it with Radisson.
On Kayak.co.uk, Radisson LAX was showing up as £62 or $100 USD via Olotels.com.
While on Kayak.com it was showing $133, a difference of $33!
Unlike Hyatt, you can only submit your Radisson BRG claim online. I’ve had issues with them in the past, and it has taken me 3 or 4 tries to get my BRG approved. Not surprisingly, I ran into the same issue again after I submit this BRG claim.
Although the Olotels.com rate was clearly lower, Club Carlson denied it because it included tax and they couldn’t figure out how to match it to their higher rate that did not include tax. I emailed back saying that their logic didn’t make sense since they could just deduct the 14% tax out and re-calculate it.
I really do get mad when Hotels offer Best Rate Guarantees and then make you jump through every hoop imaginable to get the BRG match. In my opinion, this is a complete Bait and Switch. Anyways since Club Carlson didn’t want to approve my BRG even though it was clearly valid, I took to Twitter to express my annoyance.
Now there is a highly probable possibility that Club Carlson reached out to me because I am Blogger. However as you can see, I am sharing their email address with everyone so if you ever have any issues with their BRG, send your issues to the above email address and tell them I sent you : )
Anyways, I took Club Carlson up on their offer and forwarded my BRG to them, and magically it was approved.
While I am a huge fan of Club Carlson in general and appreciate them going out of their way to fix this issue, their BRG Representatives should be trained so this doesn’t happen in the first place! Guests shouldn’t have to Tweet their frustration to get these BRGs approved, when they are so clearly valid!
Anyways, thanks to the BRG, the rate dropped from $133 a night to $72 (including tax). That is a 46% savings!
On top of any Points I will be earning, the biggest benefit is that I will be receiving a Free Night Certificate as part of the promotion. I will probably use it at the $400 a night Radisson Martinique in New York, next time I am in town. Not a bad deal for $77!
Aria – Las Vegas
Given that I was 2 for 2 with BRGs, I decided to try my luck (no pun intended) and see what Olotels.com was showing for Las Vegas.
Not surprisingly, they came through once again and showed a rate of $178 (including taxes) compared to AriaLasVegas.com’s rate of $236 a night.
Although Olotels.com’s rate of $178 is similar to the Virtuoso Rate I found a few days ago, you can’t use the Virtuoso Rate for BRGs because it is a special package deal.
That being said AriaLasVegas.com does have an additional 10% off if you submit a successful BRG. I haven’t submitted one yet because this Las Vegas trip isn’t until January, however it is definitely worth a shot.
Additionally Vegas.com has a “Double The Difference” BRG, meaning whatever the difference in rate, they will give you 2x that. So in this case, the difference between Olotels.com and Vegas.com is $58, so 2x that would be $116! So potentially I could get a room at Aria for $178 – $116 = $62 a night!
Once I get around to submitting that BRG, I’ll write an update on what happens however just from checking out Vegas.com, I know it is going to be a fight to get it down to $62 but that is half the fun!
Every Hotel I have checked on Olotels.com, I have found it to be cheaper than the actual Hotel’s website. Not to mention all the prices on Olotels.com include Tax.
That being said, outside of Hyatt, you can expect an epic struggle to get your BRG approved because it is a foreign site. However as you have seen, using Social Media you can shame the Hotels into approving your BRG.
Regardless of all this hassle, BRGs can save you a significant amount of money! In the case of the Aria example above, if Vegas.com approves my future claim for $62, I could stay 3 nights at Aria for $186, which is almost what it would normally cost for 1 night ($176) there. Since our flights are free on Southwest, basically outside of food and drinks, our only expense would be the Hotel, which split with another person would only be $93 a person…
Although it is great to be able to use Hotel Points for a free night, in the event you don’t have enough Points or their is no availability, with Best Rate Guarantees you can easily turn the regular rate in your favor!
Unless your trip is last second, there is absolutely no reason why you should ever pay full price to travel!
As always, it just comes down to a little Long Range Planning!
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