Category

Hyatt

Why Olotels.com Is My New Favorite Site For BRGs

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!

Recap

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!

Parag

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Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee – 20% Off

Best Rate Guarantees

As most regular Readers know, there are 3 things I love:

  • Ultimate Rewards Points for their flexibility
  • Southwest for their extremely cheap awards on Points, which coincidentally can be transferred via Ultimate Rewards
  • Kayak.com for its ability to find really easy Best Rate Guarantees.

For those of you not familiar with Best Rate Guarantees (BRGs), they are basically guarantees that Hotel Chains make to Customers to entice them to book directly at the Hotel Website instead of clicking thru sites like Expedia, Kayak, or Hotels.com, whom the Hotel ultimately has to pay.

With a Best Rate Guarantee, if you can find a lower price on sites like Expedia, Kayak, Hotels.com, etc, then the Hotel Chain will match you to that lower price and then give you an additional discount.

Via Loyalty Traveler, here is a run down of what each Hotel Chain offers as compensation if you file a successful Best Rate Guarantee. This is on top of matching you to the lower rate you found:

  • Hilton – $50 Gift Card (USA/Canada/Mexico) or $50 Off Hotel Folio at Checkout (International)
  • Hyatt – 20% Off Lower Rate
  • Marriott – Additional 25% Off Lower Rate.
  • Starwood – Additional 10% Off Lower Rate or 2,000 Bonus Starpoints.
  • Wyndham – Additional 10% Off Lower Rate

I personally feel that Marriott and Club Carlson have the best BRGs because it is a whopping 25% off the lowest rate you can find.

The Intercontinental and Choice Hotels BRG are also really great because they will give you a FREE night if you can find a valid claim. If you are only staying for 2 nights, this basically means you are getting 50% off your total bill. I have never filed a BRG with Intercontinental or Choice Hotels, but now that I am aware of their policy, it is definitely something I will consider going forward.

The great thing about BRGs is that YOU STILL EARN POINTS & STAY CREDIT!

I have talked about in the past how to file a Marriott BRG and Club Carlson BRG. Both have saved me tons a of money in the past. In the case of Club Carlson, in France they mistakenly entered the BRG rate code as $0 EUR a night, so my 3 night stay which should have cost upwards of $700 was free…

The reason I bring BRGs up is because they are really easy to find via Kayak.com, but a pain in the butt to file successfully because you have to fill out an online form and then wait 24 hours while the Hotel tries every trick imaginable to find a reason to deny your claim. With Club Carlson, it took 3 separate attempts to file a successful claim but in the end it certainly was worth it ; )

That being said, yesterday I was filing a BRG with Hyatt and I have to give them a ton of credit for having the easiest BRG claim process in the industry!

How To File A Hyatt BRG Claim

As part of my Free One Way  that I tagged on as part of my France Trip, I am once again going to LA in 2 weeks right before the start of the Domestic Leg of the Star Mega DO 4. From LA, I will be using 3,400 Southwest Points to get a One Way to SFO.

I am going with Friends to LA, so we needed a place to stay and LA Hotels are fairly pricey. After doing a quick search on Kayak for any pricing discrepancies at Marriott, I was surprised to see a pricing discrepancy for the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza near Beverly Hills.

As you can see, booking via Hyatt.com, 3 nights would be a whopping $358 a night ($1,073 total), whereas booking via Booking.com would only be $269 a night ($807 total). That is a difference of $266 or basically 1 extra night.

I wasn’t familiar with Hyatt’s BRG policy, so I just figured it was something crappy like Starwood’s 10% off, but in actuality Hyatt is 20% off. According to Loyalty Traveler, it used to be 25% off. While 20% off is pretty good, the reason why I think Hyatt has the best BRG process in the industry is because there are no dumb online forms to fill out. You simply call Hyatt’s dedicated BRG line at 1-888-964-9288 and tell them the website where you found the lower rate and they will look it up.

The reason why I think this process is 1 million times better than Marriott or Club Carlson, is because if you file an online claim and then the person on the other end is dumb and can’t verify your lower rate, then they will deny your claim.

With Hyatt, if they tell you they can’t find the lower rate (like they did for me), then you can wallk them through the process of how you found it, over the phone. Similarly if they say the room rates don’t match up for the exact room type, you can convince them other wise.

So after I made a refundable booking for my dates on Hyatt.com, I simply called into Hyatt’s BRG line. In my case, the 1st Hyatt Representative I talked to couldn’t find the property on Kayak.com or Booking.com, so I had to manually walk her through the process which she wasn’t really enjoying. Either I was hung up on or the connection got “dropped”, but when I called back the second time, I walked that Hyatt Representative through it once again and she was able to validate my BRG claim.

Another thing I will point out, is that the Hyatt BRG Representatives seem way more flexible on validating BRGs than most Hotel Chains. As I said earlier, normally to get a valid BRG Claim, every single thing on both sites (the site where you found the lower price and the Hotel’s website) has to match up 100%.

If the claim you found was non-refundable and the lowest price on the Hotel’s website is refundable, you will get denied. If the claim you found was for 2 double beds and the lowest price on the Hotel’s website is for a King, you will get denied. You get the point…

Below is a screenshot from Booking.com, which Hyatt visited to validate my BRG claim. As you can see, the lowest price doesn’t even give any specifics on room type. It just says “Room Selected at Check In”. Also you can see that it doesn’t even show the nightly rate, just the total for 2 nights.

When I told the Hyatt Representative that this was the lower price I found, I honestly thought it would get denied and I would have to resort to the next cheapest website I found via Kayak which was EasyClickTravel.com for $273 a night. However to my surprise, there were no questions asked and she approved the Booking.com rate.

In the end my original refundable reservation at Hyatt.com was booked at $309 a night ($1072 total). That is way out of my price range since even with 2 people splitting the room that is still over $150 each a night.

After my Hyatt BRG claim was validated, the rate dropped to $215 a night ($746 total) after the additional 20% discount. That is a savings of $326 total or almost 30% off the original rate! Still a bit much but when you split the cost in two, it is only $107 a night which isn’t terrible.

What makes this even better is that come November 1st, because I am doing the Star Mega DO 4, I should have Diamond Status with Hyatt until February 2013. As soon as that Elite Status posts to my Hyatt Account, I am going to sign up for the Hyatt Credit Card which will get me 2 Free Nights in a Suite at any Hyatt Worldwide.

Additionally then once I have the Hyatt Card, I will earn 3 Hyatt Points per $1 spent during my stay in LA plus an additional 6.5 Hyatt Points (I think but am not 100% sure) per $1 spent as a Diamond Member. On top of all of that, as a Diamond Member I get 4 free confirmed Suite Upgrades a year (which I will use in LA), as well as free internet, free breakfast, club access, etc!

If I did the math right, the $746 I am going to spend at Hyatt for this stay should net me something like 7,087 Hyatt Points, plus double stay points as part of the SMD4 Hyatt Promo, which may or may not bring the total to 14,000 points. Not exactly sure on how all those promos stack on one another but needless to say I will earn quite a few Hyatt points..

Although $746 is not small change, LA is expensive, the flights are free, and I am splitting the cost of the room with someone else so oh well. In the event that I can find a lower price at the Hyatt Regency or cheaper Hotel elsewhere (Hopefully Andaz West Hollywood!), I can simply cancel my reservation because it is fully refundable!

Although there is a bit of work that goes into getting a successful BRG claim, as you can see, they can save you a ton of money. For this Hyatt BRG, I’d say in finding the pricing discrepancy on Kayak.com and calling it in to have it validated took about 20 minutes. I’d say 20 minutes to save $326 isn’t too bad!

-Parag

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Hyatt Card Sign Up Bonus More Than Likely Changing

Update: I am being told that on the Morning of 10/9, next Tuesday, Chase will being changing the Blogger links to reflect the current offer being shown on Chase.com and Hyatt.com

I was reading Million Mile Secrets this morning, and he had an interesting post about the Hyatt Card. 

Daraius pointed out there is a discrepancy between the Hyatt Credit Card Offer that is currently available on Hyatt.com (and Chase.com) and the Hyatt Credit Offer that is available to the Blogs to promote.

In A Nut Shell

Sign Up For Hyatt Card On Hyatt.com = 2 Free Nights BUT $1,000 Minimum Spend Requirement in 3 Months

Sign Up For Hyatt Card On FFU (or any other Blogs) = 2 Free Nights After 1st Purchase (No Minimum Spend Requirement

Why This Is Important

Link To Sign Up For Hyatt Card With NO Minimum Spend Requirements

Normally I wouldn’t point this out, however I know for a fact that Chase does not like having 2 conflicting publicly available offers.

When there are 2 conflicting offers, people then complain if they sign up for the worse offer and find out that there was a better offer available all along.

We saw this with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, where there were 2 conflicting offers for 50,000 Points via the Blogs vs. 40,000 Points via Chase.com.

We also saw this with the United MileagePlus Explorer Card where there was a 55,000 Miles + $50 Statement Credit offer vs. 30,000 Miles on United.com and Chase.com.

Typically these types of misalignments for Credit Card Offers happen due to the fact that there are so many different companies involved (Hyatt, Chase, Blogs, etc), however over time the Credit Card Offers always realign themselves.

And almost every time, the Offer that remains is the least popular one.

In this case, more than likely Hyatt.com jumped the gun and fairly soon the Blogs will get an email saying to update the offers.

Proof Is In The Pudding

If you want further proof that this change is more than likely coming, just look to the other Hotel Cards that Chase issues.

The Marriott Premier Card last month was offering 50,000 Points after 1st purchase.

However I just got word that the offer is now 50,000 Points After $1,000 Minimum Spend in 3 months. Hmm…

Link To Marriott Premier Card If You Care To See For Yourself

Additionally, the Fairmont Visa from Chase also offers 2 Free Night Certificates.

Guess how much the Minimum Spend is?

$1,000 in 3 months!

Sound familiar?

Link To Fairmont Card

Should I Wait?

Seeing that all the other Hotel Cards issued by Chase have a $1,000 Minimum Spend Requirements AND the fact that the current Hyatt Card offer on Chase.com and Hyatt.com has changed to $1,000 Minimum Spend, it is safe to say that the writing is clearly on the wall.

If you have been on the fence about getting the Hyatt Card yet, I would highly suggest signing up for it now.

Link To Sign Up For Hyatt Card With NO Miminum Spend Requirements

Although $1,000 Minimum Spend isn’t terrible, it still is annoying.

I’d much rather get 2 Free Nights for using the Card a single time.

I will just point out that the Bloggers don’t normally get updated notices on Credit Card offers expect for when they are officially ending.

In the event that the Card terms change, we normally just get an email saying the Card has been updated, please update your links. 

There is no advance notice for those types of changes.

Therefore I have no idea when the Blogger Links for the Hyatt Card will be pulled, I just know they will be pulled shortly and without notice.

Old FFU Hyatt Posts

If you are new to FFU, I’ve talked about the perks of the Hyatt Card numerous times.

Basically, it is semi-unreal what you can redeem your 2 Free Night Certificates for because there is no monetary cap on them.

That makes this Card great if you are planning a Honeymoon, etc.

A full review of the Hyatt Card can be found here.

Additionally if you are crafty, you can easily swing 8 Free Nights At Hyatt using the Hyatt Card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred. More information here

Finally, in the Frequent Access Articles Archive (FAA Archive), there are a few articles by other Bloggers about Hyatt that are worth checking out!

As always, I recommend that both, you and your travel partner sign up for the Card, because that will be 4 Free Nights!

I personally am waiting for Hyatt to give all the people on the StarMegaDO4, Diamond Status (as they have done on all the other MegaDOs), so I can apply for the Hyatt Card and get 2 Free Nights in a Suite!

I am really hoping it comes through soon so I can apply for the Card before they change the terms!!!!

Recap

In terms of Hotels Cards, the Hyatt Visa is one of the absolute best Cards out there.

Simply for signing up, you get 2 Free Night Certificates that can be used at any Hyatt in the World!

On top of a whole host of other benefits, you also get 1 Free Night Certificate on your Cardmember Anniversary every year.

That Free Night Certificate can be used at any Hyatt Category 1-4, and is worth way more than the $75 annual fee for the Card.

When you factor in the annual benefits and sign up bonus for the Hyatt Card, it is almost like they are paying you to have the Card.

If you have any questions, let me know!

-Parag

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