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Marriott

How To Use Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee To Get Over 25% Off Your Stay

MommyPoints had a great post last week about the various Best Rate Guarantees provided by different Hotel Chains.

It was extremely informative and reminded me of a post I’ve been meaning to do for a while about Marriott’s Best Rate Guarantee and how you can maximize it to score over a 25% discount on your next stay.

If you aren’t familiar with Hotel “Best Rate Guarantees” or BRGs, essentially it is a guarantee made by the various Hotel chains that if you book on the Hotel’s official website, you will get the absolute best price. If you find a cheaper price on a different site like Hotels.com, then they will match you to that lower price as well as give you some sort of additional discount depending on the Hotel chain.

The idea behind this is that Hotel’s don’t want you to look around because you might decided to stay at a different Hotel Chain. Additionally, they don’t want to pay sites like Kayak.com a referral fee for directing you to Marriott.com to book your stay. They’d prefer if you just went straight to Marriott.com, and didn’t even bother with Kayak or any other hotel search engines.

As MommyPoint’s post points out, the benefit of the Best Rate Guarantees differ by each Hotel Chain. In my experience Marriott’s is the most lucrative with a whopping 25% off compared to only 10% off with Starwood.

Now when I say 25% off, I am not talking about 25% off the price at Marriott.com, I am talking about 25% off the cheapest price you found.

Personal Experience

I’ve personally used the Marriott Best Rate Guarantee a couple of times and it has always been extremely successful.

The first time was when Emily & I went to Sydney. We were staying for 10 nights and the rate was almost $300 a night. I found a cheaper rate of $225, so Marriott matched it and then took an additional 25% off that price of $225. So from $300, the price dropped to only $168.75, or a whopping 44% off the original price. Since we were staying for 10 nights, that BRG saved us over $1,312!

The 2nd time was for Emily’s Parents when they went to Paris last Summer. The best rate on Marriott.com was $400 a night but I found a cheaper rate on Priceline.com for $385. The difference was only $15 but it triggered the BRG and it knocked 25% off the new cheaper rate of $385 lowering the price to $288 a night. For their multi-night stay, it saved them a couple hundred dollars.

How To Perform A Successful Best Rate Guarantee Claim

With the prevalence of travel search engines like Kayak.com, finding a Best Rate Guarantee rate is extremely easy.

When I was writing this post last week (pre-mattress run), I was in the process of looking for Hotels for our upcoming Washington D.C trip on July 26 – 28, so I decided to use D.C as my example below. That being said, this process can be used for stays at any Marriotts worldwide and can also be replicated for BRG at other Hotel Chains like Starwood and Hyatt.

Step 1 – Visit A Travel Search Engine

My personal preference is Kayak.com, but you can use anything you like Hotels.com, Hipmunk.com, etc. You just need a single site that compare prices from across the web as well as Marriott.com, so when you are doing this for the first time, I’d avoid Priceline and Expedia because they only search their own prices.

Step 2 – Enter Your Information / Look For Pricing Inconsistencies

After entering your destination information and check-in dates, hit search.

With Kayak.com, it allows you to filter by Hotel Brand, so go ahead and type in Marriott, and select “All Marriott Brands”.

All the Marriott brands for your destination will show up.

Unless you have a particular hotel in mind, I typically sort it by lowest price first.

After you have sorted by price, simply go down the list and look for any inconsistencies between the lowest price offered and what the official Marriott.com website is offering.

In my example below, the official Marriott website would be Courtyard.

As you can see, the 2nd and 3rd results showed a pricing inconsistency.

After I clicked thru to GetARoom.com, I can see the $149 rate for the Courtyard Washington.

Step 3 – Book The Higher Price At Marriott.com

After you find the pricing inconsistencies, to file a BRG claim, you need to first have a Marriott.com booking for their Agents to compare your cheaper rate against.

Since Marriott (and all Hotels) will try to get out of validating your BRG since on to of the lower room rate they also have to give you an additional 25% off that new price, I highly suggest that you book a REFUNDABLE rate when reserving the higher priced room at Marriott.com.

This way, in the event that Marriott refuses your BRG, you can always cancel your higher priced room reservation without a fee.

Sometimes, the lowest rate at Marriott.com is a non-refundable pre-paid rate. I’d suggest staying away from those, because once again if Marriott denies your claim, than you will be stuck.

When I click thru Kayak.com to Courtyard’s official site, the lowest rate I am given is an average nightly rate of $239 a night.

After making sure the reservation was 100% REFUNDABLE and NOT pre-paid, I went ahead and booked the higher Marriott rate knowing that if my BRG was denied, I could fully cancel my reservation without penalty.

Step 4 – Filing A BRG Claim

After you have your confirmation number for your higher priced Marriott stay, simply click the link below to be taken to the BRG claim site.

https://www.marriott.com/look/claimForm.mi

You will need to fill out the information of your current higher priced Marriott.com room and then information about the cheaper price you found.

You DO NOT need to book the cheaper priced room you found on whatever other site to get Marriott to validate your BRG. You only need to provide the information on how to find that cheaper rate so that Marriott can verify that it is a real rate. If it is valid, they will then modify your higher priced Marriott.com reservation and take off an additional 25% off.

You will need to provide the website where you found the lower priced rate. When you perform a search on a travel search engine, they typically give you a unique url which only you can access, so instead of pasting something like this http://www.kayak.com/hotels#/Washington,DC-c2279/2012-06-04/2012-06-07. I’d just put down the shorter version like http://www.Kayak.com or http://www.orbitz.com. The Marriott Agents who investigate your BRG claims do this everyday, so they should be able to figure out how to use Kayak to perform a simple search.

That being said, they might try to “play dumb” as a way to avoid validating your BRG so I typically include explicit instructions in the comments section on how I found the cheaper rate such as, “I searched Kayak.com for a hotel in Washington D.C on July 26, 2012 date. I found the Courtyard Washington listed for $149 by clicking through Kayak.com to GetARoom.com.

The more mainstream the website, (ie. Kayak.com, Hotels.com, Orbitz.com, etc), the more likely you are to get approved. I’ve found foreign sites are a little harder to get approved because Marriott doesn’t always find them to be “legitimate” or the currency exchange rates mess up the BRG.

I’d also suggest that you always take a screenshot of the lower price you found. This is because sometimes the price you find might be a mistake or simply hasn’t been updated to reflect the new higher price that you see on Marriott.com. Therefore between the time you submit your BRG request, and the time that the Marriott Agents actually investigate your request by going to the cheaper site, the price may change and then they will deny your BRG.

After you submit your BRG claim, just sit back and relax. Typically the Agents get back to you fairly quickly, like in a few hours.

In the event that your claim is denied and you suspect that your claim is in fact legitimate and Marriott is attempt to weasel out of validating your BRG, don’t hesitate to email them back explain why your claim is legitimate. I’ve had this issue before and once I countered whatever argument they made to deny my BRG, I was approved.

If they still deny it, don’t be afraid to submit another claim based on an price you found on another site.

It is 100% FREE to book a refundable room at Marriott.com and submit a BRG claim, so feel free to keep trying until you are successful! The worst the can say is no. Once I submitted 4 different BRG for the same stay, until 1 finally stuck and they validated it.

Recap

The thing about Best Rate Guarantees is that they’re far more of an art than a science.

Although it is fairly easy to find a BRG, it doesn’t mean that you will ALWAYS be able to find one at the particular Hotel you are staying at for a certain date,  so don’t get discouraged.

Although in this tutorial, the process of finding and filing a BRG sounds tedious and long, it takes maybe about 15 minutes total.

Although it depends on how long and expensive your stay is, as I talked about above, spending 15 minutes filing a BRG with Marriott saved us almost $1,300 in Sydney.

Remember that with Hotel BRG (this excludes BRG from travel search engines like Expedia, Hotels.com, etc.), you still earn all the Hotel reward points and credit towards Elite Status that you would if you hadn’t filed a BRG.

Maximize This Strategy

I always like taking these kind of strategies to the next level so if you got free hotel status from the any of the free Elite Status offers this past year, you can always email Marriott and ask for a Status Match. StatusMatcher.com is a great site for instructions on how to do this. I’ve have done this in the past and got matched to Marriott Platinum Status for our stay in Sydney.

Additionally if you already planning on staying at a Marriott and want to further maximize your BRG, I’d also suggest signing up for the Marriott Credit Card which currently offers 50,000 Marriott points as a sign up bonus as well as 1 free night stay at a Category 1-4 hotel!

In addition to the sign up bonus & free night stay, you also get 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott Hotels, 2 points per $1 spent on dining, airline and rental car purchases.  And if that wasn’t enough, you also get an anniversary bonus of 1 free night stay at a Marriott category 1-4 hotel EVERY YEAR!

Link To Marriott Credit Card With 50,00 Point Sign Up Bonus

Anyways I hope this tutorial has been informative and helpful. Hopefully next time you book a hotel stay, you can use a BRG and save at a minimum 25% off!

If you have any questions or comments about Best Rate Guarantees, feel free to email me or leave a comment below!

Happy Friday!

-Parag

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The Art Of The Status Match

So as I alluded to in the previous post, my lowly United Premier (Star Alliance Silver) status is set to expire in February 2012. Although in terms of cool perks like lounge access and system-wide upgrades, my Premier status got me nothing, I did enjoy the free baggage allowance, priority check in, Economy Plus, and occasional upgrade to domestic First Class.

While I am kind of bummed that my status is expiring, at the same time I am kind of happy because as I also alluded to earlier, I will have free OneWorld Ruby status in a few weeks compliments of Kingfisher.

While there are many in the frequent flying community who fly hundreds of thousands of miles for either work or for fun, unless I purely did mileage runs there would be no way I could hit top-tier status. Even hitting 25k miles a year in Elite Qualify Miles I think is tough for most people unless you frequently vacation on the other side of the world or travel for work.

In my case, just to achieve my lowly United Premier status, I had to fly round-trip Chicago -> Sydney and then Chicago -> Paris to hit 25k miles.

While that is doable, say you only primarily vacation in the U.S and Mexico, then you probably wouldn’t hit the minimum 25k EQM to achieve status unless you zigzagged across the country.

That is where these free statuses like Kingfisher, come into play.

Although these free statuses may be on airlines that you may never step foot on in your life, I always sign up for any free status offers regardless if I plan to ever use it.

Why you may ask?

In the case of Kingfisher, they just happen to be joining the OneWorld Alliance which is extremely convenient. I may never fly on a Kingfisher plane but with OneWorld Ruby, I can get free checked bags on BA and AA. Additionally, with these free statuses, you can sometimes parlay them into status matches on airlines you actually care to fly.

How?

As I said earlier, I “achieved” United Premier status in 2010 and it carried over to 2011 and is set to expire in February of 2012. What I didn’t say was that prior to me stepping foot on my United flight to Australia, United had already given me Premier status for free which allowed my girlfriend and I to get “bumped” to Economy Plus for both legs of the flight. (According to the United check-in screens that were trying to up-sell passengers to Economy Plus, it was a $300+ value per a person, per a leg, so $1200 in “free upgrades” in total for both of us. Not bad!).

I achieved status on United by getting a status match to a free Virgin Atlantic Silver status that I had received for free in a 2009 promo. After Virgin mailed me my physical Silver status card, I booked my ticket on United and visited Status Matcher where I found the email / fax number to request a status match. While airlines typically want to see a statement for a status match, I simply scanned my Virgin Silver card and emailed it to them with a simple message along the lines that I was a Virgin Silver member but I had heard great things about United and recently booked a flight to Australia. I also enclosed my ticket number and if they could status match me. While other people may have different experiences with status matches, without a question, United matched my Virgin Silver “status” to United Premier and if I wanted to keep my United status past 2010, I had to fly 25k miles by the end of the year. Since I was already logging 18k miles for the Australia trip, that wasn’t a problem.

What is cool is that this same strategy can be applied to hotels. As with my free Virgin Silver status, I also had Starwood Gold status from an earlier promo in 2009. However when looking for lodging in Sydney, I couldn’t find any reasonably priced SPG hotels, so we settled on Marriott. After I had booked the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay for 10 days, I simply visited Status Matcher and scanned my SPG Gold Card. In my email to Marriott, I wrote something along the lines of, I had already booked 10 nights at Sydney Marriott and have been a loyal SPG Gold member but am looking to switch, could you match me. Again without a question I was matched, however this time it was to Marriott Platinum status which actually was a tier higher than what I had with Starwood. To keep my status for the year, I just needed to stay 15 nights at Marriott which wasn’t difficult since I already would be getting credit for the 10 nights in Sydney.

The point of these 2 stories is that even if you don’t fly regularly you can still achieve elite status by using some easy tricks. Just remember that typically airlines only allow 1 status match in a lifetime, so only do status matches when absolutely necessary (like flying direct to Australia in Economy for 16 hours!)

Just in 2011, I achieved the following free elite statuses:

Kingfisher – Silver (Soon to be OneWorld Ruby)

A|Club Rewards – Platinum

Marriott Rewards – Silver

Hilton HHonors – Gold

Hyatt Gold Passport – Gold (Just Kidding)

Have you ever done a status match? What have been your experiences?

-Parag